Ben is the CEO of IslandWood, where he has the opportunity to work daily on two of his greatest passions - education and the outdoors. Each year, IslandWood's 200+ staff and volunteers teach thousands of urban children using nature as a classroom. Many of these kids have never hiked in the woods or walked on a beach before participating in IslandWood. IslandWood boosts the students academically, builds their self confidence, and helps them tackle challenges in their communities.
Ben believes that in order to change the world, an organization must be prepared to change with the world. Thus IslandWood is adding two new initiatives to its current flagship programs. First, a city-based program is addressing the fact that 80% of children now live in or near urban settings. This program will develop a new generation of educators to connect children with urban nature. Second, a "Nature Passport" smartphone app is leveraging cutting-edge technology to drive children off their couches to play and explore outside.
- Time spent in nature reduces rates of heart disease, MS, obesity, depression, and some forms of cancer
- In one generation, outdoor time has been cut in half, while obesity has tripled and Ritalin usage has skyrocketed 3000%
- Inmates and chickens spend more time outside than many kids
Ben also gives talks about nonprofit leadership. Please contact Ben if you'd like him to deliver a keynote, moderate a panel, or speak at your event.
Ben has served on seven different boards, in capacities ranging from Chairperson to Treasurer to Corporate Secretary. His boards have ranged from startups to mature companies, and have been in all three sectors - including corporate, government and nonprofit organizations.
He currently serves as the Board Treasurer for KUOW, Seattle's leading National Public Radio affiliate. Previously, he has been a board member at two for-profit companies he cofounded including Camp Galileo and Donor Empower; and he has been appointed by two state Governors to sit on Washington State committees. Ben chaired the board of Sierra Club's Inner City Outings in New York City, helping to bring children from Harlem and Chinatown on outdoor adventures. And, he was a board member of the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial - a part of the National Parks system.
While earning his MBA, Ben cofounded the Board Governance Lab (formerly "Stanford Board Fellows") that places MBAs as board members. This program has since been replicated at over 80 business schools around the world.
Instruction and Facilitation.
Ben teaches a graduate course on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs. He also teaches a graduate course on Nonprofit Management. In order to educate his students, he independently produced the Know Your Sector Video which has been used by tens of thousands of people to understand the nonprofit sector. 1 in 10 jobs in the USA are at nonprofits, and the financial scale of the sector is larger than Saudi Arabia and Sweden combined.
Ben received a 40 Under 40 Award from the Puget Sound Business Journal. He has participated in Leadership Tomorrow; earned the British American Project Fellowship; and is an active member of a Vistage CEO group. The organization that Ben leads, IslandWood, has been recognized for four straight years as one of the "Best Places to Work" by Outside Magazine, and has also won awards for its green architecture; science education; and efforts around ethnic diversity.