Ann has a broad range of experience in the arenas of government, private business, nonprofits, and education. She has served as an advisor to progressive, sustainable companies focusing on green products and social justice and has taught courses at several universities in green chemistry and business. Ann is considered an expert in the field of environmental exposures to chemicals and their impacts on health and finally, she has served on the board of directors for nonprofit entities focusing on environment and social entrepreneurship.
I have had the privilege to work with Ann in a number of capacities and to witness her skills at leadership and collaboration. Ann is able to structure meetings to draw the most out of the participants while staying true to the agenda and timeline for the gathering. I like to call Ann the “hub of the wheel” for our world of environmental health and policy. Ann is valued as the “honest broker” and the thoughtful problem solver by all the entities that form the “spokes” of this community. Participatory style and effective action would be the exact words Ann’s colleagues would use to describe her style and accomplishments.
While Ann is certainly involved in a number of projects, I know from first hand experience that when she decides to take something on, she finds the time, energy and focus to bring the project to a successful conclusion. For example, Ann has served 7 years on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit called WAGES which focuses on workforce development for immigrant women. She has provided her time and energy through expansion, a tough economy, and leadership change. I have watched Ann carefully select her consulting projects so that she can meet all of her commitments. Ann has never faltered when it comes to follow-through on the projects that bear her name.
I have personally seen Ann’s skillful facilitation of multi-stakeholder groups incorporating the perspectives of academics, regulators, elected officials, community organizations, and students.
Ann’s hallmark is her strategic/ critical thinking and her ability to draw from a broad vision of sustainability to identify and prioritize concrete actions to improve the health of workers, families, and the planet.
Per my response to question #2, Ann is the “hub of the wheel”. It is precisely these skills and her professionalism that keep her in the center of so many issues and programs.
I can not think of a stronger trait of Ann’s than her personal integrity. Ann is trusted for her technical advice and also for her personal and professional vision. Ann is an exceptional listener. During the often contentious debates in the State of California’s Green Chemistry Regulation development process, Ann has found a way to honor the intent of all sides and to offer clear and honest assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of various perspectives.
Perhaps the best example I can offer in terms of a potential challenge to Ann’s integrity is her ability to deliver “bad news” to her allies and colleagues within environmental organizations. At times, members of environmental nonprofits will tend to get out ahead of the science in order to make their case for adoption of an environmental or public health protection. Ann retains her intellectual honesty in the heat of such discussions and will not let her colleagues in these organizations take positions that might garner a good deal of media, but will leave them in an indefensible position. As such, Ann is a trusted advisor to a number of national organizations. We have all come to rely on her to deliver these “reality checks” with grace and tact.
My experience with Ann would point to the areas of setting policy and planning for the future. Ann’s work as board member, consultant, and trusted advisor has led to her participation in the development and implementation of forward-looking policy development for nonprofits, companies and government agencies.
She has played a key role in policy development for such cutting edge initiatives as the Precautionary Principle for the City/County of San Francisco and the Green Chemistry Initiative for the State of California. She has helped a small nonprofit like WAGES plan for future growth and facilitated successful visioning and strategic planning processes for the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
Ann’s work has often served as the model for similar entities – be they government or nonprofit – wishing to accomplish similar goals of long-term environmental and economic sustainability.
In the near 20 years that I have worked closely with Ann Blake, I have always been impressed by her commitment to public service. Ann’s passion for science comes from a deep belief in the responsibility of each individual to leave the world better off from our time on the planet.
Mount Holyoke College emphasizes creating just such women leaders. I often send young people interested in changing the world to Ann’s door. No matter how busy her schedule, Ann invariably serves as a mentor to these young women (and men) that she encounters. It is that deep-seated commitment to the next generation and her often stated pride in being an alumna of Mount Holyoke College that makes Ann a perfect addition to the Board of Trustees.