And learn how you – like Frank – can become a not-so-accidental and influential environmentalist
Frank Loy is an amazing person. He is also an unconventional environmentalist. He began his career as a corporate lawyer with the oldest and largest law firm in Los Angeles. He left a couple of times to take government positions in Washington. The first, in the Kennedy administration, was as Senior Advisor to the administrator of the Federal Aviation Agency and head of its first small economic analysis shop.
In the decades following, he served as the head of The German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and then held several senior State Department positions in the administrations of Presidents Johnson (Deputy Assistant Secretary for economic affairs), Carter (Asst Secretary for refugee affairs), Clinton (Under Secretary for Global Affairs and Head US Climate Negotiator), and Obama (US Representative UN General Assembly).
In between these government assignments he worked in the business sector as Senior Vice President of Pan American Airways and then as a founding partner of a turn-around firm whose biggest assignment was the bankrupt Penn Central Transportation Company — then the largest industrial bankruptcy in the history of the United States.
I met Frank back in 2006 when we both served on the Board of Directors of Resources for the Future. Later we worked very closely together when Frank served on the board of The Nature Conservancy while I was CEO. I’ve admired Frank for a long time and regard him as a role model, mentor, and dear friend.
Frank is now in his 90s. He shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. He has retained his energetic approach to life alongside his dry wit. He’s a joy to be around and everyone seems to love being in his company, including me.
One of the things I admire about Frank is how he designed his career as an environmentalist so that it would be impactful, fun, and energizing. I think his strategy should also work for most of our readers. His career plan is pretty straightforward: Find a cause you really care about; collaborate with like-minded people and aligned organizations; don’t worry too much about yourself; and focus on getting important things done.
Frank has also thought hard about how to build an ever-bigger environmental coalition — another area where I think we can all learn from him.