Jennifer Morris assigns herself to the philosophy that growth and comfort cannot coexist, recalling a quote from Ginni Rometty about being the first female CEO of IBM. As the president of Conservation International, responsible for leading more than 1,000 experts in 30 countries, Morris is similarly well acquainted with the challenges of being a female leader, and has, in her time since assuming the position in 2017, focused on gender equality as a core issue
But in this time of climate emergency, she has unstuck this ethos from just gender and raised it up as a pillar for ecological conservation and sustainable development writ large. “We need to get a little bit uncomfortable,” she says, to the point of being “radical” – in collaboration and partnerships, in transparency, in communication, in optimism (which she exhibits in spades) and in leadership to change the direction of human impact on the natural world.
“The environmental problems we face are providing leadership from all corners,” she says, “from school walkouts, to massive protests, to individuals pushing aside fear, because they know they must speak out. That is leadership.” Few embody this type of trailblazing leadership more than Morris herself.