Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business at College of the Atlantic
Professor Jay Friedlander founded the sustainable business program at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor after working as chief operating officer at O’Naturals, a natural and organic fast-food restaurant group. He says he discovered the power of business as a lever for positive social and environmental change as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania. In that country, slave owners used business as a tool of oppression, but he saw that it could be liberating as well. Women’s cooperatives used commerce to improve their education, health, and social standing, he says. As the inaugural chair of the sustainable business program, Friedlander developed a curriculum that focuses on how building social, economic, and environmental capital can help businesses innovate and gain competitive advantages. “Ten years ago the sharing economy, organic food, and renewable energy were tiny blips or didn’t exist at all,” he says. “Today, sustainable companies are eclipsing established players across industries by reducing risk, cutting costs, and opening new markets.” Friedlander serves on the advisory board of the Maine Center for Graduate Professional Studies at University of Maine, which is establishing an interdisciplinary graduate center combining business, law, and policy.