Beebe not going far as Ecotrust plans further growth
By Wendy Culverwell
Spencer Beebe said Ecotrust's Natural Capital Fund could grow to as much as $1 billion in impact.
Spencer Beebe is leaving the job he invented two decades ago, but the father of Portland’s Ecotrust wants everyone to know he’s not going far.
Beebe, 66, announced this week that he will step up into the role of chairman of Ecotrust, a full-time, paid position.
“I’m not going anywhere and I’m not stepping down and I’m not slowing down,” said Beebe, who has been working on sustainability and social equity for more than four decades. “I will do it until I die or they throw me out.”
Nevertheless, he said it was time to pass the day-to-day work of managing nonprofit Ecotrust to the next generation while he turns his attention to expanding the 12-member board and building its investment fund into a $1 billion triple bottom line powerhouse.
Astrid J. Scholz, executive vice president, will become president of the environmental and economic development nonprofit.
“This change is designed to be sure that Ecotrust does not get stuck in founder’s syndrome, where the founder can’t let go and let younger, smarter people take on the work,” said Beebe.
Scholz is an ecological economist with a doctorate in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley. She has served as an Ecotrust executive for 11 years. She said one of her main goals is to expand Ecotrust’s influence outside of Portland.
“It’s incredibly courageous when a founder is able to identify when there is a need to bring in those new ideas and pass it off,” said Jim White, executive director of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon.
Beebe formed Ecotrust in 1991 to promote sustainability and economic development efforts, marrying the interests of both people and the environment. Today, it has an annual budget of $10 million, a staff of 65 and $110 million in assets under management.
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