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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 (NYU ‘80), Clinical Professor for Business and Society, is the Director of NYU Stern School of Business’s Center for Sustainable Business, where she is bringing her 25 years of experience working on local, national and international environmental and 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 frog 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, was the Citi Fellow in Leadership and Ethics at NYU Stern in 2015 and was awarded the Stern Faculty Excellence award in 2020. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards and corporate advisory boards such as the Unilever Sustainable Sourcing Advisory Board and the Nespresso Innovation Fund Advisory Board as well as a member of the Board of Directors for Aston Martin and GlobeScan. She is also 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.

Tensie Whelan has been featured in the following publications for her work with the Center for Sustainable Business: Harvard Business Review, Stern Social Innovation Review, The Economist, Fortune, Crain's, Financial Times, Impact Alpha, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal as well as academic journals such as the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance.

Research Interests

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

Academic Background

M.A., International Communication
American University

B.A., Political Science
New York University

Related News & Research

Professor Tensie Whelan notes that consumers want to buy sustainable products and e-commerce retailers can help them do so by sharing environmental and social data on their online platforms

Making a Better Business Case for ESG

Professor Tensie Whelan is quoted in a story exploring factors behind a rise in consumer demand for upcycled food and beverage products; data from the Sustainable Market Share Index™, research by the Center for Sustainable Business and IRI, is cited

Professor Tensie Whelan weighs in on Morgan Stanley's recent commitment to measure the climate impact from loans and investments

A recent co-authored report by Professor Tensie Whelan and Center for Sustainable Business Director of Corporate Research & Engagement Kevin Eckerle on communicating sustainable value creation quarter by quarter is cited

Professor Tensie Whelan explains how the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the growing consumer concern around the health and safety of frontline workers amid a pandemic

Professor Tensie Whelan notes that brands have traditionally upcharged for sustainably labeled products, but the higher price tag is not necessarily reflective of actual production and supplier expenses

In a story exploring how toy manufacturers are aiming to reduce their carbon footprints, Professor Tensie Whelan notes that focusing on sustainability practices in the toy industry is long overdue

The Center for Sustainable Business' Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI™) methodology is highlighted

Coronavirus Is Making Business Leaders Rethink the Rules of Capitalism

Key discussion from the Center for Sustainable Business' 2020 Practice Forum are featured

Professor Tensie Whelan underscores the importance of sustainable business practices across all industries

Professor Tensie Whelan's comments on the impact of sustainability-marketed products on the consumer packaged goods (CPGs) industry are highlighted

In an in-depth interview, Professor Tensie Whelan highlights how company boards can define and oversee sustainability efforts

Solving for Opportunities and Impact

Professor Tensie Whelan's comments on corporate sustainability initiatives are spotlighted

Does Fashion Have a Conscience?

Professor Tensie Whelan highlights key takeaways from the Center for Sustainable Business' Sustainable Market Share Index™

During an in-depth podcast interview, sharing examples of a meaningful person, place and thing, Professor Tensie Whelan illustrates the competitive advantage for companies that embrace sustainable business practices

Professor Tensie Whelan offers her perspective on how growing consumer concern about single-use packaging will impact the future of consumer goods companies