Tensie Whelan, Director
Tensie Whelan (NYU ‘80), Clinical Professor for Business and Society, is the Director of the NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business, where she is bringing her 25 years of experience working on local, national and international sustainability issues to engage businesses in proactive and innovative mainstreaming of sustainability.
As President of the Rainforest Alliance, she built the organization from a $4.5 million to $50 million budget, transforming the engagement of business with sustainability, recruiting 5,000 companies in more than 60 countries to work with Rainforest Alliance. She transformed the Rainforest Alliance into an internationally recognized and credible brand. Her previous work included serving as Executive Director of the New York League of Conservation Voters, Vice President of the National Audubon Society, Managing Editor of Ambio, a journal of the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and a journalist in Latin America.
Tensie has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics and was a Citi Fellow in Leadership and Ethics at NYU Stern. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards and currently serves on the advisory boards of ALO Advisors, Buzz on Earth, Edelman, Giant Ventures, Inherent Group and Nespresso. She was most recently appointed to the board of Emerald SPAC, and is an Advisor to the Future Economy Project for Harvard Business Review. Tensie holds a B.A. from New York University, an M.A. from American University, and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner President Management (OPM) Program. She was awarded the Stern Faculty Excellence Award in 2020 and made Distinguished Professor of Practice in 2023 in recognition of her contributions to Stern.
Tensie Whelan has been featured in the following recent publications for her work with the Center for Sustainable Business:
- Harvard Business Review: "ESG Reports Aren’t a Replacement for Real Sustainability"
- MIT Sloan Management Review: "How to Bring ESG into the Quarterly Earnings Call"
- Harvard Business Review: "Boards Are Obstructing ESG — at Their Own Peril"
- Harvard Business Review: "How to Talk to Your CFO about Sustainability"
- Stanford Social Innovation Review: "Making a Better Business Case for ESG"
- Worth: "Coronavirus is Making Business Leaders Rethink the Rules of Capitalism"
- The Economist: "Solving for Opportunities and Impact"
- Fortune: "If Hospitals Made Efforts to Go Green, Health Care Costs Would Go Down"
- Worth: "Why Electric is Driving the Future of Auto Luxury"
- Barron's: "Companies That Embrace Sustainable Investing See Their Sales — and Stocks — Rise"
- Harvard Business Review: "Actually, Consumers Do Buy Sustainable Products"
- Worth: "The Business of Business is Creating Value (Which Leads to Profits)"
- Worth: "The Hidden Plastic That’s Clogging Our Oceans"
- The Economist: "A reality check on the financial sector's gender wage gap"
- Fortune: "Shareholders Are Stealing Our Jobs"
- Harvard Business Review: "The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability"
Notable Research Publications:
- The Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI): Monetizing Financial Benefits of Sustainability Actions in Companies (Sustainable Consumption and Production, November 2020; originally in Review of Business: Interdisciplinary Journal on Risk and Society, June 2019)
- Existence inductive theory building to study coordination failures in sustainable beef production (Journal of Cleaner Production, September 2020)
- The cultural consensus of sustainability driven innovation: Strategies for success (Business Strategy and the Environment, July 2020)
- Using the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) Framework to Value Accelerated Decarbonization (Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, June 2020)
- Embedding Sustainability Performance and Long-Term Strategy in the Earnings Call (Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, June 2020)
- ESG and the Earnings Call: Communicating Sustainable Value Creation Quarter by Quarter (NYU Stern CSB and CEO Investor Forum, May 2020)
- Sustainable Purchasing Patterns and Consumer Responsiveness to Sustainability Marketing Messages (Hapres Journal of Sustainability Research, March 2020)
- The Evolution of Thought in the Era of Embedded Sustainability (Academy of Management, August 2019)