CEF Sustainability Leadership Development Immersion Program
An Annual Competition to Inspire and Cultivate Emerging Sustainability Leaders
The application process for the 2022 Leadership Development Immersion Program will be announced in early 2022.
To support members’ efforts to engage employees and cultivate the next generation of sustainability leaders, CEF organizes an annual 1-week Sustainability Leadership Development Immersion Program led by inspiring experts and held in amazing places around the world.
Participants are selected through a highly competitive application open to employees at CEF member companies. The selection jury looks for exceptional candidates at “an inflection point in their lives or careers with regard to sustainability—ready and eager to take their sustainability leadership to the next level within their communities and/or organizations—as well as being strong team players accomplished in setting ambitious goals and getting results.
2019 Program: “Harnessing Collaborative Leadership to Achieve Sustainability at Scale”
November 16-23, 2019
In 2019, ten outstanding leaders from CEF member companies — chosen from a highly competitive field of applicants — attended the CEF Sustainability Leadership Development Program focused on the theme, “Harnessing Collaborative Leadership to Achieve Sustainability at Scale,” led by Bruno Sarda, President, North America, CDP and CEF Advisory Board Member and Julia Novy-Hildesley, Professor of the Practice and Executive Director of Stanford’s Change Leadership for Sustainability Program. Meet the 2019 participants.
2018 Program: “Meeting Sustainability Challenges with Transformational Leadership”
Mashpi Forest, Ecuador
November 4-10, 2018
In 2018, ten outstanding leaders from CEF member companies — chosen from a highly competitive field of applicants — attended the CEF Sustainability Leadership Development Program, “Meeting Sustainability Challenges with Transformational Leadership,” led by Rob Bernard, former Chief Environmental Strategist at Microsoft, along with Julia Novy-Hildesley, Professor of the Practice and Executive Director of Stanford’s Change Leadership for Sustainability Program and renowned National Geographic experts, connected to the program’s base for the week, Mashpi Lodge. Meet the 2018 participants.
What participants have said
“My experience reached far beyond any initial expectations of what the week would hold. The group built a strong bond and supportive network which I’m excited to be a part of now and in the future. I emerged from the forest with a renewed strength and sense of purpose to approach future work and personal challenges with bold intent.”
-Alenja von Winterfeld, McDonald’s
Read more reflections from the 2019 trip to the Peruvian Amazon
“Participating in the CEF Sustainability leadership program at the Mashpi Lodge was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that will continue to impact my personal and professional decisions for the foreseeable future.”
-Kellie Jensen, Apple
Read more reflections from the 2018 trip to Mashpi Forest, Ecuador
“This experience was truly life-changing in so many ways, and I will treasure this time always. I knew I would be traveling and spending time with an accomplished group of people, but never did I imagine that every person would have such a great impact on me. Over the week, I went through every emotion under the sun, from joy to exhaustion, from sadness to elation.”
-Lisa Shpritz, Bank of America
Read more reflections from the 2017 trip to Mashpi Forest, Ecuador
2017 Program: “Meeting Sustainability Challenges with Transformational Leadership”
Mashpi Forest, Ecuador
November 12-17, 2017
In 2017, nine outstanding leaders from CEF member companies — chosen from a highly competitive field of applicants — attended the CEF Sustainability Leadership Development Program, “Meeting Sustainability Challenges with Transformational Leadership,” led by Jon Foley, CEF Advisory Board Member and Executive Director of the California Academy of Sciences, Julia Novy-Hildesley, Professor of the Practice, Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, Stanford University, and renowned National Geographic experts, connected to the program’s base for the week, Mashpi Lodge. Meet the 2017 participants.
2016 Program: “Learning in our Last Wild Places”
Yellowstone National Park and Cody, WY
August 13-19, 2016
In 2016, nine outstanding leaders from CEF member companies joined wildlife ecologist Arthur Middleton for a trip to Cody, WY and Yellowstone National Park to explore the connections between wildlife, conservation, development and business. The winners were deemed by the selection jury as being at “an inflection point in their lives or careers with regard to sustainability—ready and eager to take their sustainability leadership to the next level within their communities and/or organizations—as well as being strong team players accomplished in setting ambitious goals and getting results.” During this week-long journey, participants experienced the Wyoming wilderness where Buffalo Bill camped and hunted over 100 years ago. They traveled on horses through the spectacular Absaroka Range, surrounded by peaks that stretch up to twelve thousand feet above sea level, and examined the challenges of balancing the fast pace of development while respecting and learning from the ecosystems that have defined the region. Participants met with key local leaders – ranchers, government officials, business leaders and conservationists – to learn more about the leadership skills and sustainability expertise required to move forward even in areas of significant conflicting interests. Meet the 2016 participants.
2015 Program: “New Frontiers for Sustainability Leadership: From Reflection to Action”
Patagonia National Park
November 29-December 5, 2015
In 2015, applicants competed for an opportunity to join renowned adventurer and VP of Environmental Initiatives at Patagonia, Rick Ridgeway, and corporate sustainability expert, Jib Ellison, for a trip to Chile to witness the launch of a new national park in the Aysen region. In this week-long journey, participants experienced and contemplated the vast restored wildlands of the Chacabuco Valley, while fostering leadership skills and sustainability expertise that they are now using to accelerate sustainability within their organizations, and beyond. Beginning with a flight to Santiago, Chile, winners traveled on to the town of Balmaceda and then made the 6 hour drive to Patagonia National Park. After a breathtaking journey past bright blue rivers, snowcapped mountains, and wild terrain, the group arrived at the Lodge at Valle Chacabuco to catch up on sleep and prepare for the week’s adventures. Throughout the week, the group embarked on a guided car tour of the valley, a 5 hour loop hike on the Aviles Trail, across the Chacabuco River, and took small launch boats on Lago Cochrane to view an endangered Huemul deer reserve. The trip closed with the Lagunas Atlas Hike, a 23 kilometer loop that winds around numerous alpine lakes, climbing toward Tamanguito Peak. Meet the 2015 participants.
2014 Program: “Sustainability Leadership at the Eco-Social Nexus”
Mexico City and Chiapas, Mexico
November 9-14, 2014
In 2014, winners joined FEMSA Foundation Director and C.K. Prahalad Award Winner Vidal Garza Cantù for a trip to Mexico City and the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Over a 6-day journey, participants discussed business strategies that work for both for people and planet, with the goal of fostering leadership skills and expertise that they can bring to bear on their jobs and in their efforts to accelerate sustainability within their organizations. The trip began with a flight to Mexico City for a workshop with conservation leaders, corporate sustainability managers, and academic experts to discuss new ideas and approaches for aligning business success with the preservation of Earth’s vital natural systems. The group then flew to the southern state of Chiapas to visit organic coffee cooperative Comon Yaj Noptic and tour a partner plantation to get a first-hand view of the immense work that goes into a cup of coffee. Participants spent time exploring the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, a diverse forest home to quetzals, jaguars, and other endangered species. The trip closed with a visit to San Cristobal de las Casas to examine local water conservation projects. Meet the 2014 participants.
2013 Program: “Building and Leading Collaborations for Sustainability”
Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho
August 22-25, 2013
In August 2013, nine “rising stars” from CEF member companies– chosen by competitive application– embarked on a life-changing leadership development journey along the Middle Fork of Idaho’s Salmon River hosted by Canyons River Company and led by corporate sustainability expert and class V river guide Jib Ellison. Participants flew to Boise, Idaho, and were then chartered to the launch site along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River– one of the first to be designated a National Wild and Scenic River. Filled with world class whitewater, pristine green forests, hillsides of wildflowers, huge sandy beaches, natural hot springs, breathtaking hiking vistas, and star-filled skies, the Middle Fork is truly spectacular. The challenge of navigating a Class III-IV river– requiring trust and collaboration among all participants– provided a unique backdrop for organized discussions and problem-solving around 21st century sustainability challenges that demand complex collaborations among unlikely partners. Read reflections from winners.
2012 Program: “Thinking Bigger: Reflecting on Sustainability Leadership from the Amazon Rainforest”
Camp 41, Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
July 7-14, 2012
In 2012, ten outstanding leaders from CEF member companies were chosen to embark on a life-changing sustainability leadership development program in the Amazon Rainforest with world-renowned ecologist Dr. Thomas Lovejoy.
The winners flew to Manaus then traveled to “Camp 41″– an off-the-grid research camp situated 100 kilometers into primary forest. From there, the team participated in treks to learn from veteran scientists about the intricacies of the Amazon ecosystem. After three nights in the forest, the group ventured to study complex ecosystems in and around the Amazon River and Rio Negro. This field experience created a unique to stimulate group thinking about company strategies and spur new ideas. Read personal reflections from the participants.
2011 Program: “Leadership on the Edge”
Two winners from CEF member companies were selected to join a diverse international team of corporate leaders, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, teachers and young people on a life-changing journey through the Antarctic Peninsula. The “Leadership on the Edge” Program led by polar explorer Robert Swan OBE, encompassed leadership development, environmental education, communication skills, team-building, and survival training. Guest experts on the environment, climate change, sustainable development, and outdoor leadership host presentations, debates, and lessons in the dynamic classroom of the Antarctic, giving team members a broad, practical base to start the process of change. By their return home, team members were equipped to become powerful sustainability leaders. Read insights from the participants.