Jonathan Lash, an internationally recognized expert on practical solutions to global sustainability and development challenges, has been selected as the next President of Hampshire College.
Lash has served since 1993 as president of World Resources Institute (WRI), an environmental think tank that under his leadership has quadrupled its budget, and globalized its work with offices in eight countries and partners in more than 50 countries. WRI is an international leader on issues ranging from low carbon development to sustainable transportation.
From 1993 to 1999, Lash was co-chair of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, a group of government, business, labor, civil rights, and environmental leaders appointed by Bill Clinton that developed visionary recommendations for strategies to promote sustainable development. He played a key role in the creation and success of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which in 2007 issued the highly influential “Call to Action” on global warming.
“Throughout his career Jonathan Lash has embodied a spirit of innovation and social commitment similar to that represented in higher education by Hampshire College,” said Sigmund Roos, chair of the board of trustees. “Jonathan shares with Hampshire the desire to see ideas put into action and the vision to find new ways of making that happen.”
In making the announcement, Roos had high praise for the work done by Interim President Marlene Gerber Fried, a longtime faculty member at Hampshire who has led the College during this academic year.
“We owe Marlene a tremendous debt of gratitude for her leadership,” said Roos. “Her energy and commitment moved the College forward during a period of transition, and her positive imprint is forever on Hampshire.”
“I am delighted to welcome Jonathan Lash to our community,” said Gerber Fried. “I am excited that he is bringing his vision, reputation, and deep commitment to working towards a more sustainable world to Hampshire.”
Trustee Gaye Hill, chair of the presidential search committee, said: "Jonathan has dedicated his career to working for social justice and environmental sustainability in a collaborative setting. These are core values at Hampshire College, and we are thrilled that he is bringing his expertise and international connections to bear on Hampshire's work."
Hampshire’s learner-centered model of education, which enables students to pursue research across academic disciplines and projects in a variety of settings around the globe, was part of the College’s appeal for the new President, who will assume his duties at Hampshire on July 15.
Prior to WRI, Lash held posts as director of Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center, Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources, and Vermont Commissioner of Environmental Conservation, and as a federal prosecutor.
During his tenure in Vermont government, he helped write and implement statutes on issues ranging from pollution prevention to protection of streams. As a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, he litigated and campaigned on energy and pollution issues.
Early in his career, Lash served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and then as a trainer for volunteers going to El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
He holds law and master’s degrees from Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. He is a graduate of the Putney School in Vermont.
Lash writes frequently about issues of sustainability and has served on a variety of international commissions and boards. He has been named as “one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” by Ethisphere magazine (2007) and one of the world’s Top 100 Most Influential People in Finance by Treasury and Risk Management magazine (2005). He was profiled in Rolling Stone’s “Warriors and Heroes,” 25 leaders “fighting to stave off the planet-wide catastrophe.”
He and his wife, Ellie, who teaches at Sidwell Friends School, will be relocating to Amherst from Washington, D.C.