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John  Passacantando

John Passacantando

Former Executive Director of Greenpeace USA


John Passacantando’s career has taken him from Wall Street to philanthropy to a leading role in the global fight to stop climate change. He worked for Jude Wanniski -the “high priest” of supply side economics in the US - and is a committed practitioner of non-violent civil disobedience as taught by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He has a master’s degree in economics from New York University, as well as a record of a dozen arrests for engaging in peaceful protest. He has been quoted in most major newspapers, appeared on major TV and radio news programs and has been a regular commentator on environmental issues. Read More >

Passacantando completed eight years as executive director of Greenpeace USA in 2008, the longest serving director in the history of the organization. He was instrumental in guiding a tremendous shift in public awareness and concern about the conditions of our planet. As the environment is one of America’s greatest concerns, this issue now crosses all lines: progressive, conservative, young, old. In fact, many corporations are changing the way that they do business, balancing how to positively impact the bottom line with the quality of life that affects us all.

 In spite of this progress, the situation is still serious. The Federal government continues to establish roadblocks and thwart international cooperative efforts. Developing nations are adding to the problem. Many corporations still continue to pollute, and many individuals are not on board with a greener, less wasteful, more energy-efficient lifestyle. Passacantando outlines “The State of the Planet” but goes beyond just raising awareness about the extent of the problem; he proposes solutions: positive actions that individuals, organizations, and communities can engage in to improve our environment before it is too late.

Prior to Greenpeace, Passacantando founded and ran Ozone Action (1992-2000), the country's first national non- profit focusing exclusively on global warming. He also served as the executive director of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation (1989-1992), where he directed resources to the grassroots renewal of democracy. 

Passacantando now runs the Eco-Accountability Project, providing research and analysis to support the environmental community. He also teaches strategy and opposition management to activists, is developing a related course for American University’s School of International Service in the Social Enterprise Program.

Passacantando is vested in working with government and industry, but finds that that is not always possible and explains that there are multiple tactics and approaches to address the many different situations facing environmentalists today. He advocates that each lobbying, letter writing, petition-signing, consumer boycott, public protest, and even civic disobedience, all have their place. This is, after all, a fight for survival. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Executive Director of Greenpeace USA

Speech Topics

Your Environment, My Environment: A Fight for Survival

The State of the Planet