Local environmentalist to head Sierra Club
Local environmentalist Mike Brune has been tapped to lead the Sierra Club. His first day on the job is March 15.
Brune, 38, became known for his focus on corporate responsibility as head of the Rainforest Action Network, which he led for the past seven years. He has also championed the causes of green energy and energy independence, writing a book on energy independence. Brune takes the reins of the influential 118-year-old club from Carl Pope, who has led it since 1992 (he’s been involved with the now-1.4-million-member club since Brune was 1 and will remain as its executive chairman).
“The grassroots volunteers and staff of the Sierra Club have won some of the country’s most significant environmental battles. I believe the Sierra Club’s best work lies ahead, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Brune was quoted as saying in a Sierra Club press release announcing his selection for the job. He said he’s particularly interested in promoting programs that link the Club’s traditional protection of wild places, including National Parks, to urgently needed climate change solutions.
The club’s board president, Allison Chin, said the board was impressed with Brune’s ability to work with volunteers and “his proven talent for bending the will of powerful adversaries without breaking the bonds of civility that keep them at the table.”
In a December 2008 interview with The Island, Brune said that pollution on the beaches of his native New Jersey sparked his environmental awareness. After graduating college with degrees in economics and finance, he took a job with Greenpeace. After that, he helped form a Washington, D.C.-based group called Oil Change International that focused on energy independence. Brune is also the author of a book, “Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal.”
Most recently, he led the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, which the Wall Street Journal dubbed “the most savvy environmental agitators in the business” for the group’s successful efforts to push corporations to adopt greener practices. At the ripe old age of 26, he convinced Home Depot to stop selling wood from endangered forests. He has also secured commitments for more environmentally friendly practices from Citi, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Kinko’s, Boise, and Lowe’s.
Brune lives in Alameda with his wife and two children. He came here seven years ago, he told The Island, on a wrong turn into the Webster Tube, and he said he grew to love Alameda’s small-town feel, tree-lined streets, bike lanes and Tucker’s ice cream parlor.