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Wilford is unique in the breadth and depth of his experience, as a result of his five professions, work and travels to over one hundred countries on all seven continents.
As a U.S. diplomat during the Nixon administration, Wilford played a role in the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, and in 1973 Wilford forecast the economic takeoff of South East Asia in a Harvard Business Review article entitled "The Business Potential of Southeast Asia". He has also been a professor of international business, publisher of a world affairs publication that appeared in twenty-six countries in six language editions, and a business strategy consultant to major multinationals, including Toyota, Citibank and the New York Times. He has worked for a number of national governments, including the development of ten-year plans for the Korean and Taiwan electronics industries, and to environmental organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters and Earthjustice. Wilford has degrees from Yale, Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley. From 2002 to 2008 he was a board member of Columbia University’s School of Public and International Affairs (SIPA). He currently serves on the boards of VQWind and NatureBridge.
Since 2004, Wilford has created a series of initiatives with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu entitled Quest for Global Healing. Over 1,000 people from forty countries came together in Ubud, Bali to address the interconnected global challenges of extreme poverty, human rights, social justice and the environment. The most recent gathering, entitled Beyond Sustainability – Redefining Prosperity, brought together on the island of Hawai'i in June of 2010, leaders from many disciplines and cultural backgrounds, to address the shift in values and actions that must be taken to bring humankind into balance with the natural world if future generation are going to survive and prosper.
In 2008, Wilford authored The Tactics of Hope – How Social Entrepreneurs are Changing our World. The book highlights how social entrepreneurs, often using business methods and a lot of "boundary riding", are successfully addressing age-old social and environmental challenges. To highlight the importance of intergenerational collaboration and action, David Hopkins, newly graduated from Middlebury College, worked with Wilford on many aspects of the book.
Wilford has also long been involved in mountaineering. He was a member of the support team on Everest in 1994 that removed 5,000 pounds of trash from the high camps and introduced the notion of Leave No Trace. His photo of Mount Everest from Tibet is the cover photo of the National Geographic Society’s climbing map of Everest. He also climbed Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America and Europe, on a 28-day climb. Watch videos of these and more at EverestandEnterprise.com.
Wilford was chairman of the board of the National Outdoor Leadership School, (NOLS), the world’s leading organization teaching wilderness skills. He is currently chairman of NatureBridge Golden Gate’s thirty year old institute that teaches sustainability practices to 11,000 school aged children each year. NatureBridge, with four campuses in the United States, is the National Park Service's largest partner in providing environmental education to children.
Wilford is now speaking full time to students
about how they can create rewarding careers for themselves while addressing the
sustainability challenge. He is speaking at corporate and trade group gatherings
and at public affairs forums about the global sustainability challenge, and the
methods businesses, governments and individuals can employ to address it. He
has spoken at the Harvard, Stanford and the University of California business
schools, at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Fletcher School of Law and
Diplomacy. He has spoken to corporate audiences, and at such public forums
as the Commonwealth Club of California, the Skoll World Forum at Oxford
University, the Fulbright scholars and the U.S. National Park Service.