KATE WILLIAMS is CEO of 1% for the Planet, a global movement inspiring businesses and individuals to support environmental nonprofit solutions, through annual membership and everyday actions. Kate stepped into her role at 1% for the Planet in May 2015 bringing a strong track record as a leader, including roles as Board Chair of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), as Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, as founder and owner of a farm business enterprise, and as an elected political leader in her community.
Kate also brings a deep passion for and commitment to the power of collective action, which is at the core of 1% for the Planet’s model and approach. “When people come together across traditional boundaries to solve complex problems, they create stronger, more ethical, and more lasting solutions,” she says. “It is my best hope that I can lead by creating and supporting these kinds of powerful connections.”
Kate earned a BA at Princeton University where she majored in history, and an MS at the MIT Sloan School of Management where she focused on organizational systems. Kate is a master’s distance runner, kitchen gardener, and always wants more time to read and write.
Kate lives in Vermont with her husband and two children.
3 words to describe Nature?
Complex. Simple. Vital
3 things Nature taught you?
3 most treasured Nature spots?
Great Pond, Maine
Northern Wind River Range, Wyoming
San Pedro Park, New Mexico
When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...
Small in a good way, and connected to things greater than myself and humans in general. I also feel curious about both the horizon and what is below the surface
When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?
Small in a good way, alive, surrounded by wise elders
When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?
A little frightened, but also awestruck in a positive way
When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?
At peace and reminded to pause for beauty. Also a sense that while science can explain most things, even the colors in a sunset, it can’t explain the breathtaking feeling of seeing vast natural beauty.
When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?
If I’m in a safe place, I feel curious and compelled to count between lightning strike and thunder boom. If I’m in the mountains, I feel duly respectful of the power and kick into risk management mode.
When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?
Very presently aware of the power of nature. I live at the dead end of a dirt road with a forested hill sloping up behind our home. When the wind blows, I feel both connected to those trees that bend but also sometimes fall in that wind.
Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?
I am a mountain person. I love nothing more than being in, looking at, hiking in, living in, finding beauty in mountains…. Mountains are what most fill my heart.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?
10. I’ve chosen to live in, work on behalf of, recreate in, and draw inspiration from nature. I find both peace and strength in nature, whether it’s in wilderness or in my kitchen garden.
Share with us a childhood nature memory?
Some of my earliest memories are of the lake in Maine where our family has a small cabin. I have memories of all seasons on the lake – skinny dipping on hot summer nights and skiing in the fading light as the frozen lake cracked and popped. While I have many specific memories, what I love about these early lake memories in general is how they incorporate every sense: I can taste the lake water on my lips as I dry off after a morning swim, smell the pine needles baking in the August sun near the rocky shore, feel the lichen rock under my toes before jumping into the deep, hear the waves pushing against the shore under a strong Northwest wind, and see the golden light of sunset reflecting on the underside of the leaves shading our cabin porch. I’m grateful to my parents for knowing the value of immersing us in nature as a central part of our childhood – it’s certainly shaped me.