Share / Print

Tensie Whelan

Tensie Whelan

Joined Stern 2015

Leonard N. Stern School of Business
Kaufman Management Center
44 West Fourth Street,
New York, NY 10012



Tensie Whelan joined New York University Stern School of Business in November 2015 as Clinical Professor of Business and Society. She leads the School’s efforts around issues of business and sustainability, driving research and coursework on natural resource-based challenges including climate change, water scarcity, biodiversity loss, poverty and unsustainable development.

Professor Whelan also launched Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business, whose mission is to ensure current and future business leaders develop the knowledge and skills to embed sustainability in core business strategy so they can reduce risk; create competitive advantage; develop innovative services, products, and processes; while building value for society and protecting the planet.

Professor Whelan was formerly the President of the Rainforest Alliance, where she worked since 2000. In 2014, she was appointed as the School’s 2014-2015 Citi Leadership and Ethics Distinguished Fellow.

During her tenure at Rainforest Alliance, she increased the organization’s budget from $4.5 million to $50 million; ensured that 15% of the world’s tea, 14% of the world’s cocoa and 5% of the world’s coffee was certified by the Rainforest Alliance; and increased the visibility of the Rainforest Alliance seal from zero to nearly 45%. Under her leadership, the organization recruited 4,000 companies and nearly 5 million producers and their families in more than 60 countries.

Professor Whelan has been working in the environmental field for more than 25 years. Her published works include one of the first books on ecofriendly tourism, Nature Tourism: Managing for the Environment. She has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” by Ethisphere and was awarded the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2012. She serves on the advisory boards of Nespresso Innovation Fund, Arabesque, Inherent Group, Corporate Eco Forum, Odebrecht Global Advisory Council, GoodWell, and sits on the board of Globescan.

Professor Whelan has also served as the Vice President of Conservation Information at the National Audubon Society, Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters, Managing Editor of Ambio and management consultant to nonprofit organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund.

She received a B.A. in Politics from New York University and an M.A. in International Communication from American University.

Research Interests

  • ESG Investing
  • Sustainable Business
  • Business Ethics
  • Ecofriendly Tourism

Academic Background

M.A., International Communication
American University

B.A., New York University

Related News & Research

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business Panel Discussion: Innovating Investments for Climate Resilience

Trump is Right: Quarterly Earnings Reports Should Go

Professor Tensie Whelan explains why companies like WeWork hope their sustainability practices will serve as a model for others to adopt

Professor Tensie Whelan offers soft-skills advice for recent college graduates

Professor Tensie Whelan explains the business case for sustainability

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business Fireside Chat with Bryan Garcia

Spring Symposium 2018: Infrastructure & Real Estate

In an in-depth interview, Professor Tensie Whelan shares how companies can accelerate their adoption of sustainable business practices

Professor Tensie Whelan shares insights on how smart technology can contribute to sustainability

In a detailed Q&A, Professor Tensie Whelan outlines the business case for sustainable practices

Langone Speaker Series: Innovators & Entrepreneurs, Featuring Jeffrey & Meika Hollender

A Conversation With John McAvoy: How Sustainability Drives Success at Con Edison

Professor Tensie Whelan comments on Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price's decision to pay employees a minimum annual wage of $70,000

Stern's Sustainability for Competitive Advantage course is featured; Professor Tensie Whelan, Center for Sustainable Business Senior Associate Director Sophie Rifkin and two recent graduates are quoted

Powering the Future: Energy Transformation in the US

How to Quantify Sustainability’s Impact on Your Bottom Line

Professor Tensie Whelan underscores the impact businesses can have on society through their activism and engagement efforts

Professor Tensie Whelan comments on the resignation of several business leaders from President Trump's advisory councils

The Urban Answer to Climate Change: Rally a City to Capture Stormwater

Professor Tensie Whelan shares how governments can help protect water sources by charging corporate users the real cost of water