Leslie ChristianNat Damm

Leslie Christian

Founder, Upstream 21 and Portfolio 21
Seattle, Wash.

“Small companies are critical to the future of our communities,” says Leslie Christian, 62—so she helped concoct an innovative way to support them. Upstream 21, whose board she chairs, is a Portland, Ore.-based regional holding company that acquires and supports small, locally focused, privately held companies in the Pacific Northwest—currently, three forest products companies that are embracing sustainable practices. Right from the drafting of its foundational document, Upstream 21 aimed to break away from business as usual: “Our corporate charter specifically states that the best interests of employees, customers, suppliers, the community, and the environment must be balanced with those of the shareholders over both the short and long term,” Christian explains. She is also president and CEO of Portfolio 21 Investments, which specializes in environmentally and socially responsible investing.

Watch Christian explain the Upstream 21 vision: