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 Allison Roach Award 2007

Kelly HAWKE Baxter'82
Kelly has distinguished herself as a committed and passionate environmentalist who has achieved international recognition for her work to create sustainable communities and, in so doing, has exemplified Branksome Hall's highest ideals.
 
"Kelly embraced learning," says her former teacher, nominator and friend, Margaret Tuer, “and was a very bright math student.” Kelly enjoyed her Branksome experience, and was Sports Prefect in her graduating year. She went on to earn her B.A. at Queen's University, followed by two Master's degrees: in Journalism, from the City University of London, and in International Affairs, from the Norman Patterson School of International Affairs.
 
As Executive Director of The Natural Step Canada, Kelly and her team provide training and coaching to community and business leaders across Canada on how to take action on our most pressing environmental and social challenges. Kelly's work takes her to communities across Canada and includes speaking engagements in North America and Europe.
 
Founded in 1989 in Sweden, The Natural Step has offices in 11 countries and has a large team of professionals working with hundreds of corporations, municipalities, academic institutions and non-profit organizations. to help them achieve their environmental and social goals. The Natural Step has received numerous awards for its work. Kelly also sits on the Natural Step's international board as Vice-Chair.
 
Kelly also has a strong social conscience and has volunteered with many non-profit organizations such as Friends of the Earth, Street Kids International, and the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation.
 
Kelly lives in Montreal with her husband, Brian, and sons Stephen, 12, and Geoffrey, 7.
 
The world needs more people like Kelly to lead the way in helping us save our environment before it's too late.
 
 
Excerpts from Kelly's acceptance speech
Delivered at the Alumnae Awards Presentation on Sunday, May 27, 2007.
 
"I am very honoured to receive this award. It is an indication to me that what I do is actually relevant and that concern for the environmental health of our planet is, finally, front and centre in people's hearts and minds.
 
I can definitely relate the choices I've made in life back to the Branksome motto, Keep Well The Road. Although I started off in journalism, I decided very quickly that I wanted to give back to society. For me, the school motto means taking care of the planet for future generations. I want to make sure we live within the ability of the planet so that our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities as we do.
 
My organization, The Natural Step, is a national charity that provides education, training and coaching to all kinds of organizations on how to take action on our most serious environmental and social challenges. We help them plan for long-term change.
 
At the Natural Step, we are not public advocates or lobbyists. We work with decision-makers behind the scenes. We are consultants who focus on solutions, not problems. We have worked with dozens of municipalities, businesses and other non-profit organizations across Canada.
 
Our planet is in trouble. It's the polar bears on receding ice floes; it's the disappearing glaciers; it's Hurricane Katrina; water shortages in Vancouver; and the unpredictable weather we have all experienced. We are no longer talking about what might happen if we don't reduce our ecological footprint. We're talking about what is happening.
 
For the first time in the history of earth, all living systems are in decline. That means the Earth's capacity to provide life-supporting resources, such as clean air, clean water and topsoil, is systematically decreasing. If today is a typical day on planet earth, humans will add 15 million tons of carbon to the atmosphere, destroy 115 square mile of tropical rainforest, create 72 square miles of desert, eliminate between 40 to 100 species, erode 71 million tons of topsoil, and increase their population by 263,000. That's just today. Scientists tell us we have 15 years to start to turn things around.
 
There is no question that the challenge of living within nature's limits is enormously complex. What we need is nothing less than transformational change. We need to redesign the way we do things. We need to move to circular systems, where we eliminate waste and dramatically reduce our impact on natural resources.
 
In the last 25 years we have fundamentally transformed the way we live and work and communicate. I'm confident that the next 25 will be equally transformational. But this time we need to fix the planet.
 
What the world needs more than ever is leadership - people who are willing to stand up and make a difference. Leaders can be champions at any level of an organization -- students, teachers, accountants, stay-at-home moms, senior citizens. Leaders care deeply enough to make change happen, even if the obstacles seem great. Leaders don't wait for someone else to solve the problem.
 
Each and everyone one of us can make a difference. We can repair things that are broken rather than throwing them out. Drive less. Walk more. Carpool. Ride a bike. Take the subway. Buy a smaller car and tell your friends to do the same. Bring your own bags to the store. Stop buying single-use plastic water bottles. Think about all the wasted energy that goes into making them and shipping them around the world. Buy local food and products with fewer chemicals.
 
Branksome is showing great leadership in its environmental stewardship. It has a sustainability committee, it has joined the Canada Green Building Council, it is reducing its waste, composting, planting trees and managing its woodlot. And, most importantly, it is producing generations of leaders -- women of integrity, confidence and compassion who can shape the future in a changing world."
 

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