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A Green Economy For All

Julian McQueen is optimistic about the rapidly expanding green economy, and his mission is to expand its opportunities to all.

McQueen, Director of Education and Outreach for the California-based Green For All, and external advisory board member for the Sustainability Institute, shared ideas for how slowing down carbon emissions is creating green jobs during a recent visit to Tallahassee. He noted that jobs related to solar energy are increasing at 12 times the rate of overall job creation.

green for all news"There's talent, and we're leaving it on the table," McQueen said, noting that access to opportunities is a key issue. He said people need to find ways the natural and built environments and people in them--in all communities--can thrive.

Quoting Green for All founder Van Jones, McQueen said, "Are we going to turn against each other or toward each other?" With all our fates tied together, he holds the positive view. "I think we will turn toward each other."

The burgeoning green economy is a multi-billion dollar reality, and with the right approach, new wealth and opportunity can be shared widely. His work and that of Green For All is to advocate for equal access to green entrepreneurship to capture talent and expand the reach of beneficial green projects into more communities.

In California, where a “cap and trade” program is in effect to fund pollution reduction programs, one-quarter of funds are earmarked for spending in communities most affected by pollution. Over the past two years, around $1 billion has been spend to reduce pollution in these communities, including through installation of solar panels on 5,000 low-income homes for a charge of $5 a month and distribution of free bus passes.

McQueen described hard-struck communities as “hotbeds of resilience” because residents are adept at ingeniously coping with difficult circumstances. What’s needed is a way to link ingenuity to opportunity.

Green For All nurtures upcoming green leaders through leadership development programs. One example is a “Green the Church” program, which helps church members find ways to improve their lives, their environments, and their community together. For more on Green For All's work to create green jobs, read here.

As a member of the SI’s advisory board, Mr. McQueen will be helping Florida A&M to develop ideas for enhancing leadership and opportunities for students. Stay tuned for future developments. FAMU is fortunate to have such an energetic visionary helping to train the next generation of leaders.

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FAMU Alumna Fosters Responsibility in Corporate Environmental and Social Practices

Waking up in a different country almost every day maybe a dream for most people, but it is Bridgette Bell’s reality. “It’s a different world every day but it’s exciting,” said Bell. She left Florida A&M University in 1999 with a bachelor’s in science in Industrial Engineering and an open mind to the opportunities the world would bring down her path. She had no idea that through her passion for her community, diversity and her drive to positively impact the next generation, she would oversee the sustainable practices of one of the largest restaurant chains in the world.

Bridgette Bell is the Global Sustainability Manager for Yum! Brands. Yum! Brands is a growing fast food chain with about 41,000 restaurants in 124 countries. They own restaurants such as Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

After college Bell worked in telecom. She decided to get her Master’s in Business Administration in Strategy and Leadership from the Drucker School of Management in Claremont, California. Many of her classes focused on the impact executives should leave on the future generation. She said, “I began asking myself ‘what is going to be your legacy?’”

Her graduate program ignited her passion towards sustainability. Peter Drucker is the pioneer of business social responsibility and founder of her school. One of his famous quotes is “the best way to predict the future is to create it.” Thus, Bell was inspired to be the change she wanted to see.  She said: “I truly felt that a career in sustainability and corporate responsibility was an amazing way to leave a positive impact on future generations. It provides an outlet for diversity, inclusion and it is a way to protect the earth for the future.”

As a graduate student, Bell was an active member of on Los Angeles’ National Black MBA Association. While she was attending a leadership retreat she stumbled across the opportunity that would change her life forever. Yum! Brands’ Chief Sustainability Officer, Roger McClendon, saw her zest for sustainable practices and the environment, and asked her if she would like to join his team.

Bell said accepting the position was not an overnight decision. She was working in aerospace as a contractor for NASA, and felt hesitant because it would be a drastic change. But after consulting with her undergrad friends, she realized this will be her chance to follow her passion in corporate responsibility. She said “it has been a blessing ever since.”

Bell’s work days are busy, but every day is different. She said “I get to travel the world to make sure that our restaurants are being mindful about the impact on the community that we served.” Bell is responsible for setting the corporate goals for objective such as sustainable packaging, reducing total waste, recycling, environmental audits and more. She talks to the companies supply chains, quality and public affairs leaders across the world and creates strategies so that these goals are achievable. She said Yum! Brands’ goal is to make sure their consumers can see their brands in the best light through environmental efficiency.

FAMU Sustainability Institute invited her and Mr. McClendon to The Hill for the EnergyWaterFoodNexus summit in March 2015. Yum! Brand’s was also a contributing sponsor to the summit by providing $3,000 for the event. Bell was very excited to return to her alma mater to talk about the work she does and to show her colleagues the university that molded her. She said, “This University set me up for success, it gave me every single tool I needed to be an impactful leader within corporate America.”

During the summit Bell was a panelist for the Sustainable Corporate Strategies session. She discussed Yum! Brands sustainable initiatives and interacted with the attendees. She said, “I wanted to give the audiences an opportunity to interact with us [panelists] and ask questions.”  

She commends the University for having a Sustainability Institute because it is informing and preparing more future leaders about sustainable practices and environmental issues. Bell said it is not easy to have a career in corporate social responsibility, but remaining involve and attending workshops and events being offer by FAMU-SI will give you a better advantage no matter what field you enter. She said,” having an institute like this one is a great way to start building an understanding and networking with others. It will expose you to more opportunities.” She hopes to return to The Hill soon.

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Sustainability @ FAMU

Sustainability at Florida A&M University is about the teaching, research and application of environmental and resource stewardship so people and planet prosper. The Sustainability Institute serves as the hub of all sustainability-related efforts at the university, bringing students, staff, faculty and the community together around creative collaborations.

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