President and Founder · OUT for Sustainability · Seattle, WA
When I first visited BGI, I knew I had found a place to develop business skills centered on my values. Our orientation was “off the grid” on an island in Canada and it made this city boy a little nervous. To my surprise, I immediately bonded with my fellow students, the smartest values-driven individuals I’d ever met. These relationships became my second family, but something was missing… any chance of getting a date. I was immersed in the cutting-edge of sustainability, but despite tons of straight-ally love, I wasn’t meeting many other green gays.
One green gay I did meet at BGI orientation was my best-lesbian Julian O’Reilley. We quickly bonded, but what we were often really talking about was what others weren’t talking about. We couldn’t figure out why the LBGTQ community was invisible in the sustainability scene, so we decided to do something about it. We started OUT for Sustainability (partly in classes at BGI) to engage and mobilize the LGTBQ community to advance social and environmental sustainability. A few years later, we’re an official 501(c)3, and I’m being invited to speak all over the country on the topic of gays going green. Grist.org even wrote that I’m one of the 40 People Redefining Green.
The lessons I learned at BGI centered on using business (including non-profit business) to advance my values in the world. The network I accessed at BGI facilitated thousands of connections with leading individuals making an impact in sustainability and social justice. Together, these skills and connections enabled me to make an impact bridging the sustainability movement and the LGBTQ community. I think this connection is the next social evolution. Getting to play a part is a thrilling adventure.
Gerod’s career in marketing and community engagement includes time at gProjects, Meyer Wells and Organic Comfort Food Cafe (which he developed as the first organic restaurant in Pierce County). Gerod has a BA in International Studies from the Jackson School at the University of Washington, focusing on Sweden and the intersection of housing models, immigration and national identity. Gerod is a graduate of BGI’s Hybrid MBA in Sustainable Business and has also been working for BGI as a Marketing Project Manager while running OUT for Sustainability on the side. You can connect with Gerod on LinkedIn.