Hannah Wells – Director of Impact & Engagement, Viv
Hannah Wells is fiercely committed to helping businesses be a force for good. She is passionate about leveraging sustainability and storytelling to build employee and customer retention. She believes in empowering consumers with affordable solutions to address climate change and has spent the last six years implementing sustainability programs to promote renewable energy. These programs include: enabling retail energy customers to avoid 10 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, engagement programs that have resulted in more than 300 local projects and seven global service journeys, and most recently, helping support a new start-up company obtain a B corp certification. As a new resident of the Bay Area, Hannah is eager to connect with like-minded individuals.
How did you become interested in environmental work?
After my first trip to the Ecuadorian Amazon in 2005—following decades of improper oil extraction—it became evident to me how important it is to decrease the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and take action against climate change.
For three years in high school, I participated in service trips to bring supplies to indigenous communities facing serious health, economic, and environmental issues resulting from the western world’s demand for cheap fossil fuels. It was so clear how interconnected our consumer choices are and the negative ripple effect they can have on the world. After witnessing open pits of waste crude oil, and women and children bathing and doing laundry in streams with oil residue, I was moved to be a driver in creating this transition away from fossil fuels. This is a global challenge for which I feel personally responsible.
What is the educational and career path that led to your current career?
My passion and motivation to be the change I want to see in the world has been driven by the incredible opportunities I’ve had to travel, learn, and volunteer around the world. I have been fortunate enough to have traveled and volunteered on all 7 continents. Some of these trips have been through academic experiences and others have been part of my career.
My academic journey leading to my career in corporate sustainability began with my decision to enroll in a dual-enrollment program at the local community college during high school. This exposed me to classes in renewable energy, human ecology, and Fair Trade. After completing my Associate’s degree, I had the opportunity to spend 10 months traveling the world on a 188-foot tall ship with Class Afloat. Seeing social and environmental issues around the world reaffirmed my need to find an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in sustainability, and that led me to Arizona State’s School of Sustainability. After working professionally in the field of renewable energy, I realized that in order to elevate my impact in my work, it would be valuable to pursue my MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School.
I have been incredibly grateful to have discovered programs that trained me to think holistically about sustainability, and always look for solutions that account for the social, environmental and economic challenges. This formal training in sustainability and business, paired with my global experiences, gives me a unique lens to guide organizations down a path to a more sustainable future.
What environmental issues are of most concern to you?
Climate change, but I am still an optimist (I think we have to be in this field). We have the technology and resources to draw down carbon. Check out Project Drawdown for the 100 most comprehensive solutions to tackling climate change.
What are your suggestions on how WEN members can become more involved in your sector and the environmental movement?
Look for unique opportunities to travel and volunteer. It is so incredibly inspiring and fulfilling, and it can help guide your own professional journey in ways you’d never imagine. I have led 7 global volunteer journeys and can help you find an organization that aligns with your passion. Please reach out if this is something you’re interested in.
Also, help green the power grid by leveraging energy choice and supporting one of the green energy providers helping you benefit from community choice aggregation here in California. Check out CleanPowerSF or Marin Clean Energy. Or, come out to a SF Young Professionals in Energy event to learn more.