When people hear the words "pioneer" or "visionary", it conjures up many different images: Blazing new trails, living a rustic life, being driven to be one of the "firsts" or perhaps creating breakthrough innovations or revolutionary concepts that change society forever. One person who meets all these definitions and more is U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce Co-Founder Michelle Thatcher.
Michelle's childhood was spent living in a log cabin, her playtime exploring hundreds of untamed acres of vast wilderness. Sustainability, self-sufficiency and a healthy respect for nature were part of her family's DNA. At age 11 she was the youngest person ever to solo paddle the rugged Rogue River in Oregon by kayak; at 17 she biked alone cross-country from Seattle to New York. Later she became the first to solo navigate the entire length of Florida's St. John's river.
After pursuing a degree in Visual Arts from Western Washington University she worked with NPR and PBS as a professional photographer and videographer, becoming increasingly involved with environmental issues. At that time businesses seemed to be the Goliaths, sustainability and conservation voices the Davids, creating an "Us vs Them" mentality that seemed entrenched and insurmountable.
She regularly spoke on environmental and sustainability challenges caused by massive growth, and served as Executive Director of both the Seminole Soil and Water Conservation District and the Association of Florida Conservation Districts, consulting directly with 350 elected officials for 8 years.
Michelle's greatest pioneering breakthrough came when she realized that there was a huge opportunity for businesses to be part of the solution, as opposed to the problem.
This was a revolutionary concept. Michelle recognized a HUGE opportunity to bring together like-minded businesses who valued sustainability, but whose voices were not being recognized in local, regional or national affairs.
She began the Green Chamber of Commerce in 2008, joining forces with our San Diego chapter to Co-Found the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce in 2010.
Today Michelle is internationally recognized as an expert on Sustainable Businesses and is a guest lecturer on Advocacy, Conservation and Business leadership at conferences and government symposiums around the globe. She serves on advisory boards for the International Green Energy Council, World CSR Congress, World Brand Congress, and Ideas for Us, a United Nations accredited Non-Profit Organization and other prominent boards.
But the primary focus of this pioneer, visionary and thought is to continue to guide and inspire the US Green Chamber of Commerce and our members, as we continue to make monumental positive impact for the planet and people that will last for generations to come.