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ASBC at the Democratic Convention 2012

ASBC held two events at the 2012 DNC Convention in Charlotte to advance policies that support a sustainable economy.  The events featured Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, and executives from American Income Life, EMC, Wyndham Hotels, Timberland, and Seventh Generation.  Actor and cancer prevention advocate Fran Drescher keynoted a session on “Women, Business, and the New Economy."  A similar event was scheduled for the RNC but postponed due to Hurricane Isaac.

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) complemented the lofty speeches and festive receptions typically associated with political conventions with a series of events at the 2012 Democratic National Convention titled “The Summit for a Sustainable Economy.”  The programs offered a discussion among business leaders, elected officials, and advocates on the policies necessary to build a just, vibrant, and sustainable economy. A similar event was planned for the Republican National Convention in Tampa but was cancelled due to Hurricane Isaac.

Richard Eidlin of ASBC introduces the panel.
Richard Eidlin of ASBC introduces the opening panel. L to R: Roger Smith, American Income Life; Shivani Siroya, InVenture; Frank Knapp, South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce; Bonny  Moellenbrock, Investors' Circle.

The first of the three events was a policy forum on September 4 focused on responsible business, responsible capital investing, and new business models and measurement strategies that can lead to a sustainable economy. The program also highlighted the significant transition that American market-based capitalism is undergoing, where new rules, new values, and new business coalitions are being forged to ensure future prosperity. Speakers, panelists, and moderators included: Congressman James Clyburn, D-SC; Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the White House’s National Economic Council; Roger Smith, President, American Income Life; Kathrin Winkler, Chief Sustainability Officer, EMC Corporation; Betsy Blaisdell, Senior Manager, Environmental Stewardship, Timberland; Beth Richardson of B Lab; Lew Daly of Demos; and Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder, Seventh Generation.

Congressman James E. Clyburn (SC)
Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

“On the public policy side, the key word is investing. We are not going to cut our way to shared prosperity,” said Roger Smith, CEO of American Income Life, a company that provides life insurance to working families.

During the final session on new business models,  Kim Jordan, CEO of New Belgium Brewery noted that, “Our business is thriving by being sustainable, and we think all businesses can be sustainable.” Based in Colorado, New Belgium Brewing will soon be building a brewery in Asheville, NC. “A big objection from many business policy makers is that sustainability would slow growth. Companies like ours are proving every day that sustainability actually fosters positive growth. Our decision to locate in Asheville was based in large part in wanting to be in a community that valued clean air and water and that embraced a strong downtown and smart growth policies.” Lew Daly of Demos, added that “We need a new set of national accounting metrics that take into account environmental and social impacts, as well as acknowledges the externalities of economic activity.”

The second forum, “Women, Business & the New Economy” brought together women leaders in business, government, and advocacy to explore the importance of corporate social responsibility, benefits and pay equity, access to capital, health, and the environment. The program also created a dialogue around blended value ecosystems as they relate to women, human rights, and sustainability.

Melissa Fitzgerald, Fran Drescher, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL)
Actress Melissa Fitzgerald, actress and activist Fran Drescher, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).

This forum highlighted several outstanding women who are demonstrating leadership on key topics within the sustainable economy framework.  Actress and activist Fran Drescher spoke about her foundation Cancer Schmancer, which is working to increase cancer prevention and minimize the level of carcinogens found in Americans’ everyday lives.  Ms. Drescher noted the direct connection between her work and ASBC’s efforts to pass the Safe Chemicals Act in Congress. U.S. Representative Jan Schakawsky (IL) discussed how important it is for business leaders, especially women business leaders, to speak to policymakers and the media about building a sustainable economy. Houston Mayor Annise Parker explained how her city—the oil and sprawl capital of the United States—has become a leader in building sustainable communities.

Danielle Deane of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Faith Taylor, Director of Sustainability Wyndham Group Worldwide

Danielle Deane, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and Faith Taylor, Wyndham Group Worldwide.

The audience at the Women’s Forum also heard from Kim Jordan, CEO, New Belgium Brewery; Faith Taylor, Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation, Wyndham Group Worldwide; Melissa Fitzgerald, actress, The West Wing and Chasing the Hill; and Natalia Oberti Noguera, Founder and CEO, Pipeline Fellowship.

ASBC’s presence at the convention wasn’t all serious policy discussions.  We made sure to have some fun too. The final event of the Summit for a Sustainable Economy was the Legacy Reception held on the roof deck of the beautiful Harvey L. Gantt Center.  With beer provided by ASBC business supporter New Belgium Brewing, and co-sponsored by Organic Valley, American Income Life, EMC2, Advantage Waste Recycling & Disposal, and KL Gates law firm, our guests were able to relax, network, and enjoy the views of Charlotte.


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