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    Headshot of Kathy Abusow

Lunchtime Speaker: Kathy Abusow

You Don’t Have to be a CEO to Lead

Kathy Abusow is president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. SFI’s forest certification standard, used widely across North America, has strong acceptance in the global marketplace to ensure a steady supply of wood and paper products from legal and responsible sources. SFI works with conservation groups, local communities, resource professionals, landowners, and other organizations to strengthen the vital links between sustainable forestry, responsible purchasing, and thriving communities.

Since Abusow joined SFI in 2007, forests certified to the SFI standard have grown from 140 million acres to more than a quarter billion acres on public and private lands. Under her leadership, SFI has launched several signature programs and a number of notable memorandums of understanding (MOUs), including the following:

  • The SFI Conservation and Community Grants Program launched in 2010, which has, together with leveraged funds from partners, invested $9.5 million in forest research in collaboration with over 85 conservation and community groups.
  • The SFI Forest Partners Program, established in 2012 with founding partners Time Inc., the National Geographic Society, Macmillan, and Pearson, works to increase SFI forest management, fiber sourcing, and chain-of-custody certification across the supply chain.
  • MOUs with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Boy Scouts of America, as well as with Habitat for Humanity International and Habitat for Humanity Canada that are focused on building sustainable housing and supporting communities and families. SFI has helped support the Aboriginal Housing Program and recently brought a diverse team of women volunteers together to support an Aboriginal family in the Ottawa area. The build was dubbed the “Women in Wood Build.”

Abusow is a founding member of Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative — a partnership of 75 women of influence who demonstrate their passion for nature and pass their values on to others to drive change.

She earned an undergraduate degree from McGill University, with studies at Leningrad State University, and a master’s from Harvard University with a concentration in sustainable development of natural resources.

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