Phil Radford

Phil Radford
Radford as Greenpeace's executive director (2012)
Born Philip David Radford
(1976-01-02) January 2, 1976
New Brunswick, NJ, U.S.
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis[1]
Occupation Environmental, clean energy and democracy leader
Known for

Executive director, Greenpeace

Co-Founder, Democracy Initiative[2]
Partner(s) Eileen Radford

Philip David Radford (born January 2, 1976) is an American environmental, clean energy and democracy leader[3] who served as the youngest executive director of Greenpeace USA.[4] He is the founder and President of Progressive Power Lab, an organization that incubates companies and non-profits that build capacity for progressive organizations, including the Progressive Multiplier Fund[5] and Membership Drive.[6] Radford is a co-founder of the Democracy Initiative, was founder and executive director of Power Shift, and is a board member of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.[7] He has a background in grassroots organizing, corporate social responsibility,[8] climate change, and clean energy.[9] Radford lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Eileen.[10]

Radford's theory of change shifted from viewing governments as arbitrators between public and private interests on environmental issues, to finding that most governments are captured by industry. Rather than fighting first for new laws, which could be blocked by industries, he has focused on pressuring large companies to change their practices and enlisted them as allies in pushing for strong environmental protections.[11] Examples include Greenpeace campaigns that convinced Apple, Inc. and similar companies to shift to 100% clean energy and lobby utilities and regulators to make that possible,[12][13] as well as work to protect both the Indonesian rainforest and the Bering Sea Canyons.[14][15] Radford argues that the combination of creating industry champions and "outside pressure" focused on the government are the keys to passing new laws to protect the environment.[11] However, Radford has also been a vocal leader calling for the United States to pass campaign finance reform and respect all Americans' voting rights to shift power in politics from corporations towards people and fulfill "the promise of American democracy." Radford is considered by many to be a modern-day transcendentalist, in that he is very focused on nature and the environment, and he is an advocate of democracy.[16][17]

Early life

Radford received his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis in 1998.[1]

Early activism

Radford began his environmental activism as a high school student at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, volunteering for an environmental justice campaign to stop the building of trash incinerators in the West Side of Chicago near his family's Oak Park home.[18]

His first job as a grassroots organizer came as a canvasser for Illinois PIRG. While studying political science and business at Washington University in St. Louis, he directed campaign and canvass offices during summers for the Fund for Public Interest Research for clients including the Human Rights Campaign, PIRGIM, and Ohio PIRG and worked part-time during school for the Sierra Club.[19]

After graduating college in 1998, Radford became a lead organizer at Green Corps, the field school for environmental organizing.[20]

Field director of Ozone Action

From 1999 to 2001 Radford was field director for Ozone Action, an organization dedicated to working on the atmospheric threats of global warming and ozone depletion. As field director, Radford planned and executed a number of grassroots campaigns, including a campaign during the 2000 presidential primaries, which was the initial impetus for Senator John McCain sponsoring the Climate Stewardship Act.[21][22]

Radford also managed the grassroots mobilization for the Global Warming Divestiture Campaign, which resulted in Ford, General Motors, Texaco, and other companies ending their funding the Global Climate Coalition, which spread misinformation about global warming.[23] According to the New York Times, the result of the campaign was "the latest sign of divisions within heavy industry over how to respond to global warming."[24]

Founder of Power Shift

In 2001, Radford founded Power Shift,[19] a non-governmental organization dedicated to driving clean energy market breakthroughs and building the grassroots base to stop global warming.[25]

As executive director of Power Shift, Radford worked closely with the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista, and Berkeley, California, as well as nine other municipalities, to secure investments for installation of solar energy systems and implementation of energy efficiency measures in municipal buildings.[19] Radford also helped to convince Citigroup to adopt innovative new means of financing clean energy infrastructure for wind and solar installations that made them affordable to average Americans.[4][26]

Leading Greenpeace USA

In 2009, at the age of 33, Radford was selected as the youngest ever executive director of Greenpeace.[27][28] Radford's tenure at Greenpeace USA is best known for convincing over 100 corporations to change their environmental practices;[29] exposing the anti-environmental influence of the Koch Brothers, making them a household name;[30] increasing the organization's net income by 80%;[12] launching the organization's grassroots organizing and significantly growing the canvass programs;[31] and serving as a founder of the Democracy Initiative,[2] a national coalition of major unions, environmental groups, civil rights and government reform organizations working for universal voter registration, to get money out of politics, and to reform Senate rules. In September 2013, Radford announced that he would step down on April 30, 2014, once he had completed five years of service as executive director.[4]

New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin referred to a Greenpeace campaign during Radford's tenure as "Activism at Its Best."[32][33]

Ben Jealous, former president and chief executive officer of the NAACP as well as co-founder of the Democracy Initiative with Radford, described Radford at the helm of Greenpeace as "a modern movement building giant. He has built powerful diverse coalitions to bolster the fights for the environment and voting rights. In the process he has shown himself to be unmatched in mobilizing everyday people to fund their movements directly." Environmental leader Bill McKibben stated: "During Radford's tenure, Greenpeace has been helping the whole environmental movement shift back towards its roots: local, connected, tough."[12]

Before becoming executive director of Greenpeace USA, Radford served as the director of the organization's Grassroots Program.[34] In that capacity, he directed and significantly grew the organization's street canvass and launched and directed the door-to-door canvasses, online-to-offline organizing team, social media team, the Greenpeace Student Network, and the Greenpeace Semester.[35] Under Radford, the street and door-to-door canvassing programs grew to include nearly 400 canvassers in almost 20 cities across the country and was responsible for doubling the organization's budget.[35]

Changing corporate behavior

Global Climate Coalition

Radford managed the grassroots efforts of a national divestment/disinvestment campaign,[36] which forced Ford, General Motors, Texaco, and other companies to stop funding the Global Climate Coalition, which spread misinformation about global warming.[23] Soon thereafter, the GCC ended operations.[37] Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ross Gelbspan called the industry defections a "Technical Knockout" of the Global Climate Coalition.[38]


In 2001, while running Power Shift, Radford launched a campaign to push Citibank to offer and promote Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs).[39] Citi was "missing the opportunity to help stop global warming by phasing out fossil fuel investments and promoting clean energy now," Radford said. "The irony is that if Citi financed solar for people's homes, solar energy could be made immediately affordable for millions of Americans today."[40] In 2004, Citigroup agreed to offer and promote EEMs for residential wind, energy efficiency, and solar installations that would make clean energy affordable for millions of Americans.[41]


Radford oversaw the grassroots mobilization efforts on the Kleercut Campaign in the United States and, later, the entire U.S. component of the global campaign when he became Greenpeace's executive director,[34] targeting Kimberly-Clark for sourcing 22% of its paper pulp from Canadian boreal forests containing 200-year-old trees. The campaign included intervening in Kleenex commercial shoots,[42] convincing twenty-two universities and colleges to take action such as cancelling contracts,[43][44] recruiting 500 companies to boycott Kimberly-Clark,[45] over 1,000 protests of the company, and more.[44][46] The result: On August 5, 2009, Kimberly-Clark announced that it would source 40% of its paper fiber from recycled content or other sustainable sources – a 71% increase from 2007 levels. The demand created by Kimberly-Clark for sustainably logged fiber was greater than the supply, enabling the company to convince logging companies to change their practices.[44][47]

Asia Pulp and Paper

From 2010 to 2013, Radford managed Greenpeace US team that persuaded major U.S. companies to cancel their contracts with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) – the world's third largest paper company[48] – to push APP to stop destroying ancient forests.[49] Greenpeace and its allies succeeded in convincing more than 100 corporate customers of APP to sever their ties with the company,[29] including Mattel,[50] Hasbro,[51] Lego, Kmart,[52] IGA, Kroger, Food Lion, National Geographic, and Xerox.[53] In total, the campaign against APP cut nearly 80% of APP's U.S. market. On February 5, 2013, Asia Pulp and Paper announced a deforestation policy protecting Indonesian rainforests.[54] Referring to the victory, New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin heralded the campaign with a piece titled: "Activism at Its Best: Greenpeace's Push to Stop the Pulping of Rainforests".[32]

Apple, Facebook, and cloud computing go 100% clean energy

On April 21, 2011, Greenpeace released a report highlighting data centers, which consumed up to 2% of all global electricity and this amount was projected to increase. Radford stated "we are concerned that this new explosion in electricity use could lock us into old, polluting energy sources instead of the clean energy available today."[55] Business Insider reported that after Greenpeace USA campaigns, "tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Salesforce have promised to power their data centers with renewable energy, a pledge that led Duke Energy, the nation's largest power utility and one of the most flagrant emitters of CO2, to begin providing clean energy to win their business."[13]

Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive, palm oil and Indonesian rainforests

In 2014, deforestation in Indonesia, which accounts for .1% of the world's surface, caused 4% of global warming pollution. One of the major drivers of deforestation was clearing the forest to grow palm oil plantations.[13] Under Radford, the Greenpeace USA team persuaded Procter & Gamble,[13] Colgate Palmolive,[56] Mondelez,[57] and other major companies to demand sustainably grown palm oil.

Major U.S. supermarkets

Under Radford, Greenpeace ran a campaign targeting supermarket chains[58] – which sell 50% of all seafood in the U.S. – to convince them to stop selling threatened fish, adopt sustainable seafood policies, and lobby for policies such as marine reserves to protect the oceans. Some retailers simply moved from being scored in a report;[59] others like Costco[60] and Trader Joe's[61] required public campaigns to change them. The result: major seafood retailers such as Whole Foods, Safeway Inc., Wegmans, Target Corporation, Harris Teeter, Meijer, and Kroger have implemented sustainable seafood purchasing policies;[14][59][62] Trader Joe's, Aldi, Costco, Target Corporation, and A&P have dramatically cut the threatened fish that they sell; Whole Foods, Safeway Inc., Trader Joe's, Walmart, and Hy-Vee introduced sustainably caught canned tuna;[63] and Wegmans, Whole Foods, Safeway Inc., Target, and Trader Joe's have lobbied for strong ocean policies, such as protecting the Ross Sea and Bering Sea Canyons as marine reserves.[14][59][62]


Articles (partial list)


  1. 1 2 "Washington University in St. Louis Magazine, Classmates Issue". Washington University in St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  2. 1 2 "Revealed: The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  3. "15 Years: Lessons Learned". Retrieved 2014-05-21.
  4. 1 2 3 "Greenpeace Leader Moving On at 38; Phil Radford has been the youngest executive director in the environmental group's 43-year history, but he's looking for even greener pastures". The National Journal. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
  5. "Progressive Multiplier Fund". Progressive Multiplier Fund. Retrieved 2018-06-24.
  6. "Our Team". MembershipDrive. Retrieved 2015-01-03.
  7. "Board of Directors". Mertz Gilmore Foundation. Retrieved 2015-05-07.
  8. "SustMeme CSR & Business". McClelland Media Ltd. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  9. "SustMeme Climate Change and Energy". McClelland Media Ltd. Retrieved 2014-05-05.
  10. "Weddings, Celebrations". The New York Times. July 22, 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  11. 1 2 "What Greenpeace's New Strategy Means for Investors". CleanTechIQ. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  12. 1 2 3 "Greenpeace Executive Director Philip Radford to Step Down; Leaves legacy of corporate victories and organizational growth". Greenpeace USA. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
  13. 1 2 3 4 How A 'Bunch Of Commies' Are Forcing The Fortune 500 To Stop Destroying Rain Forests, Killing Too Many Fish, And Burning Coal and Oil. Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  14. 1 2 3 "Whole Foods, Safeway, Trader Joe's Top Sustainable Seafood List". Environmental Leader. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  15. Radford, Philip (June 11, 2013). "A Breakthrough in How We Work to Protect Our Oceans". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  16. "Progressive Agenda". C-SPAN. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  17. "If You Want to Breathe Clean Air, Senate Reform and Democracy Matter". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-05-31.
  18. "Oak Park and River Forest High School Tradition of Excellence Past Award Recipients". Oak Park and River Forest High School. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  19. 1 2 3 "Phillip D. Radford, Greenpeace, Executive Director". Fund for the Public Interest. Archived from the original on June 1, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  20. "Career Placement: Growing the Movement". Green Corps. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  21. "Canvassing Works". Canvassing Works. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  22. "McCain on Climate Change". Living on Earth. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  23. 1 2 Revkin, Andrew C. (April 24, 2009). "Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  24. Bradsher, Keith (December 7, 1999). "Ford Announces Its Withdrawal From Global Climate Coalition". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
  25. "Power Shift". Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  26. "Citigroup Sets New Environmental Standards". [Environmental News Service]. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  27. "Greenpeace out: Parting shots from a battle hardened climate leader". Retrieved 2014-01-29.
  28. "Greenpeace USA's Phil Radford". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  29. 1 2 "Paper Giant Pledges to Leave the Poor Rainforest Alone. Finally. Asia Pulp & Paper—the notorious destroyer of pristine tiger and orangutan habitat—says it's changing its ways". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-11-27.
  30. "The battle to define Charles and David Koch". Politico. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
  31. "Phil Radford". Source Watch. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  32. 1 2 Revkin, Andrew C. (February 8, 2013). "Activism at Its Best: Greenpeace's Push to Stop the Pulping of Rain Forests". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  33. Revkin, Andrew C. (January 22, 2014). "A Chat With Greenpeace's Departing U.S. Chief on Old and New Environmentalism". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
  34. 1 2 "Greenpeace's new leader talks up need for a green grassroots". Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  35. 1 2 "Phil Radford". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  36. "Meet Philip Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace". How Stuff Works. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  37. "RIP: Global Climate Coalition; Global Climate Coalition Ends Its Work; Voice for Industry Opposed Global Treaty". The Heat is Online. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  38. "GCC Suffers Technical Knockout; Industry Defections Decimate Global Climate Coalition". Ross Gelbspan. Retrieved 2013-08-02.
  39. "Last Call: In Person with Ben Winters, Save the Ales". In These Times. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  40. "Citigroup: Bankrupting Democracy; The Cost of Living Richly Citigroup's Global Finance and Threats to the Environment". Multinational Monitor. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  41. "Citigroup Sets New Environmental Standards". Environmental News Service. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  42. "Kleenex Gets Punk'd". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  43. "2005–2009 – Kleercut-Free Campuses and Victory!". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  44. 1 2 3 "Exclusive: How Kimberly-Clark Ditched its Forest-Destroying Reputation and Embraced Greenpeace". Fast Company. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  45. "Forest Friendly 500". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
  46. Mui, Ylan Q. (February 16, 2008). "More Than Tissues in a Box of Kleenex". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  47. Kaufman, Leslie (August 5, 2009). "Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark Settle Feud". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
  48. Schonhardt, Sara (February 5, 2013). "Paper Producer to Stop Clearing of Indonesian Forests". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  49. "'Story of Stuff' creator Annie Leonard will lead Greenpeace USA". GreenBiz. May 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  50. "A Roaring Thank You on Behalf of the Sumatran Tigers". Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  51. "Hasbro Turns Over a New Leaf, Steps Up For Rainforests". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  52. "Attention K-Mart Shoppers! Get With the Program". Legal Planet: The Environmental Law and Policy Blog. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  53. "Pressure on Asia Pulp & Paper yielding corporate responsibility, new strategies on rainforest policy [UPDATED]". Environmental Leader. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  54. "Paper Giant Pledges to Leave the Poor Rainforest Alone. Finally". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  55. "Dirty Data Report Card" (PDF). Greenpeace. Retrieved August 22, 2013.
  56. Greenpeace rates companies' zero deforestation commitments. Monga Bay. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  57. Mondelez Announces Palm Oil Action Plan. Confectionery News. Retrieved 2014-06-22.
  58. "Protecting our oceans, one supermarket at a time". Greenpeace. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  59. 1 2 3 "Carting Away the Oceans 7" (PDF). Greenpeace. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 21, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  60. "Costco Pulls Threatened Fish from Stores". The New York Times. March 3, 2011. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  61. "Trader Joe's to Adopt Sustainable Seafood Policy After Greenpeace Campaign". Triple Pundit. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  62. 1 2 "Where to Buy the Best Fish". Rodale News. Retrieved 2013-09-02.
  63. "Greenpeace Reviews Major Food Retailers for Sustainable Seafood Purchasing=2014-06-04". Triple Pundit.
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