Meet Our Founder
Sandra Taylor, President & CEO (Full Bio)
A woman of global environmental impact
A pioneer in the field of sustainability and CSR, Sandra Taylor has been responsible for the development of groundbreaking global strategies and initiatives, bringing major brands, including Starbucks and Eastman Kodak, into the global sustainability realm. As an executive for Starbucks, she led the creation and launch of C.A.F.E. Practices, influencing global standards for environmental sustainability throughout the coffee industry, with major focus on supply chains. Following that was the creation of sustainability standards for other beverages, cocoa and tea. Her work as a Kodak executive brought that company into a new era of corporate citizenship and awareness, including promotion of its unique single-use camera’s environmental leadership program, setting a standard regarding materials management, recycling/reuse and lifecycle analysis of plastics.
From coffee to wine: A discerning palate
As an expert in coffee sustainability, Taylor has traveled the world of coffee – Central and South America, East Africa, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia – honing her palate regarding the distinct regional differences, unique flavors, acidity and varietals of coffees from around the world. Her work with coffee helped develop and expand her decades-long avocation of wine tasting, wine collecting and wine tourism. Thus she was inspired to reach out to winemakers regarding sustainability issues, while getting an MBA degree in wine management from the prestigious Bordeaux School of Management. This Executive MBA program in the wine business comprised managers from family owned wineries, wine importers, distributors, sommeliers, retailers and other seasoned executives from around the world studying wine marketing, business strategy, finance and planning. Visiting vineyards and wineries around the globe, Taylor conducted research on sustainable practices in the wine industry supply chain, from vineyard management to harvesting and wine making to distribution, including ingredients and packaging. This research is based on her belief that the best-quality, finest-tasting wines can be sustainably produced and furthers her goal to ensure a global standard for measuring sustainability in wine production, from vine to barrel to tabletop.
The written word
Taylor is a writer and now a published author. She has written articles about supply chain management, marketing sustainability, and motivations for environmental and social responsibility in wine value chains. Her first book: The Business of Sustainable Wine: How to Build Brand Equity in a 21st Century Wine Industry, will be released July 1, 2017 by Board and Bench Publishing of San Francisco. Modern agriculture is the largest single contributor to global greenhouse gas production, deforestation, and water consumption. Biodiversity, climate change, energy, soil degradation, and water scarcity are critical issues. Consumers are increasingly and justifiably concerned about where their food and beverages come from and whether they are produced in a responsible way, often without an understanding of how to determine the provenance of the products they consume. Wine is no exception. In The Business of Sustainable Wine, Taylor offers a new view of how the industry can be an important actor in sustainable agriculture and provides a unique insight for the consumer on what to look for on supermarket shelves. The Business of Sustainable Wine analyzes sustainability trends in wine regions around the world. Drawing on case studies from a multitude of commodity industries, Taylor gives producers the tools to integrate sustainability into their winegrowing and marketing, and retailers, procurement managers will learn how to assess sustainable attributes of wines on offer. Like fair trade cocoa and shade grown coffee, wine must, sooner or later, meet the powerful demands of social activists and a growing consumer contingent for ethical and organic products.
Changing the world
Taylor has a unique talent for creating the kind of partnerships that make a difference. From the establishment of micro-loan programs and price equity standards for coffee farmers in Central America, to educational opportunities and clean water programs for impoverished children in China and Africa, Ms. Taylor has raised the bar regarding corporate philanthropy and innovative social investment. She reached out to Save the Children to launch the Guatemala Education Initiative, which provides educational opportunities for indigenous children in coffee-growing regions, and partnered with the Chinese Soong Ching Ling Foundation to create the China Education Program for that country’s children in impoverished rural provinces. Her observations of street photographers in cities and villages in South Africa inspired her to create Kodak-supported professional photography training programs that would support market entry for these photographers, who in turn became loyal customers for the company’s professional equipment and processing.
Economic advocacy for women
Devoted to women’s economic advancement throughout the world, Taylor organized and led an ad hoc coalition of feminist NGO leaders, corporate officers and representatives from academia and the media, known as La Pietra Coalition, to take on the issue and bring it to the attention of world leaders, successfully campaigning the G20 Heads of State to put women’s opportunity on the agenda for their 2011 meeting in France and 2012 meeting in Mexico. That campaign, known then as the Third Billion, which refers to a billion women worldwide who will enter the global economy over the next decade, is a natural extension of her work as a leader in designing public-private partnerships that help her corporate clients join with NGOs and governments to accomplish their business and philanthropic goals, especially in emerging markets.
“The only way to sustain a business is to have a sustainable business.” Sandra Taylor
Taylor’s impetus for her work in sustainability can be traced to her early career, which included assignments in the U.S. Foreign Service and tenure as a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate, motivating her to step up and make a difference. Today she travels the world, helping companies conduct business in responsible and sustainable ways. As an established global expert in sustainable development and social responsibility, Taylor is often invited to speak at conferences around the world. She advises and supports clients in a number of business sectors on conservation of resources for the future. She is an educator — as Expert in Residence at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco as well as guest lecturer at Georgetown University and American University. And she is a wine educator and founder of Fine Wine Divas of Washington, DC, a learning experience for women on the origins of wine grapes, geography, terroir, viticulture and sustainability, and tasting techniques for fine wine.
Awards & Recognition
World Environment Center Gold Medal Award 2006; Puget Sound Business Journal Women of Influence Award 2006; Corporate Ambassador, Vital Voices Global Partnership 2008; Aspen Institute’s First Mover Fellowship 2009; Outstanding Black Alumni Award, Boston University School of Law 2010; Johnson Institute Exemplary Leadership Award 2015