Greenpeace taps 33-year-old grassroots organizer as its new leader
Greenpeace has picked a young, grassroots organizer to take up the helm of one of the country’s largest environmental organizations. A spokesman for the group confirmed on Monday evening that the board has selected Philip Radford as its new executive director, effective April 27.
Radford, 33, currently serves as the group’s grassroots director. He will take over for interim executive director Mike Clark, who has been in that role since January. Former executive director John Passacantando stepped down at the end of 2008 after eight years to start a new organization that consults on green investing.
Radford came to Greenpeace in 2003, and has been responsible for launching its “Frontline” grassroots organizing program; the program nearly doubled the size of Greenpeace USA’s annual budget in three years, to $30 million, and grew the organization’s membership substantially. He also oversaw their student organizing program and the expansion to online organizing via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. In fact, Greenpeace planned to announced his hire to Twitter followers first on Tuesday.
Radford was also involved in organizing last month’s big protest at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C., where 2,000 people attempted to get arrested in an act of civil disobedience against coal power.
The grassroots experience was part of what led the Greenpeace board to select Radford. “For bold ideas to win on the climate crisis in Congress and boardrooms, we need thousands of courageous people to put themselves on the line for the Earth,” said Greenpeace Fund Board Chair David Chatfield in a statement. “Phil knows how to put ideas and people together for change.”
Before coming to Greenpeace, Radford was a partner with Clean Edge Inc., a research and publishing firm that focused on clean technologies. From 1999 to 2001 he was a field organizer for Ozone Action, where he ran the Global Warming 2000 campaign (Ozone Action was founded by Passacantando and later merged with Greenpeace). In 2001, he founded an organization called Power Shift, which led a campaign in 12 cities to invest in clean energy and efficiency, and also worked with financial organizations like Citigroup to create new financing mechanisms for green energy projects.
According to a bio provided by Greenpeace, Radford began his environmental organizing career as a high school student in Chicago, where he worked to shut down waste incinerators in his neighborhood. After attending college at the University of Washington in St. Louis, he took a fellowship with the Green Corps organizing program.
In a statement, Radford said he plans to continue growing the grassroots membership as the new executive director. “Greenpeace has a unique ability to inspire in people a sense of their own possibility to change the world,” he said. “It’s my job to unleash that possibility so that together we can win big victories for the planet.”
He also plans to build on recent partnerships with corporations like Unilever, GE, and Bosch, businesses that have begun collaborating with Greenpeace to bring more environmentally friendly refrigerators to the U.S. market.
“You can either dance with corporations or dance on them,” Radford said in the statement. “The more supporters we have, the more you’ll see even the biggest polluters willing to waltz with us to solve global warming.”
We’ll have more, including an interview with Radford, shortly.