Lunch with a Leader: Garett Brennan
Date: 11:30am PST February 24, 2016 Location: J.R Howard, Room 302
J.R Howard, Room 302
Learn from a future colleague in a casual setting while enjoying a free lunch. Listen to musician Garett Brennan discuss renewable energy trends. Learn how this former artist for 1% for the Planet and former ambassador for Keen Footwear convinced Cliff Bar to finance his playing music at farmers’ markets across the country.
Garett’s first job out of college was on green carpentry crew because–as he says–“I felt like I actually needed to learn something.” That eventually led to a job in Oregon’s wine country where a hospital (that aspired to be the country’s first Gold LEED certified hospital) needed someone who could write (english major) but who could also connect with and engage the construction crews. Drawn to the concept of how healthy buildings could contribute to healthy patients, he spent 5 years there and helped open the new hospital. At that point, he decided he needed to launch his music career. So he cold called the brand manager at Clif Bar and said they needed to give him (an Alta, UT-raised tele-skier/portland-based roots musician) $15k to cut a record in a cabin at the top of a mountain, and then tour it at farmer’s markets across the country. They loved the idea and it launched a whole program at the company that helped them connect Clif fans with music fans around environmental impact issues. After touring the country, Garett decided that he needed to put his energy into climate change. So he helped launch a youth activism organization called Focus the Nation (FTN), which mobilized over 1 million students to host climate “teach-ins” on 2000+ campuses at the height of the 2008 presidential primaries and connect those students in skype discussions with 260+ members of Congress to demand a price on carbon. Garett then spent a short stint after launching the big FTN event at a strategic communications agency called Metropolitan Group but quickly got pulled back into climate when the FTN board recruited him to be the Executive Director and build an organization off the success of that first event.
Garett led the redesign of the organization by centering it on a multi-sector human capital strategy to build a national network of rising talent for the NGO, Government and Corporate sectors—all FTN chapters and teams were comprised of 4 key roles needed to drive local climate solutions: Innovators, Storytellers, Politicos, Technicians. However, Garett and the FTN board put the organization into hibernation at the end of 2013 in order to merge the organization with a larger more financially stable group. After that, he did a short stint at Nike to assess and redesign an open innovation partnership they had with NASA, USAID and the US State Department.
Outside of what has evolved into a long thread of social and environmental impact work, Garett loves working with wood, skiing big mountains, mountain biking and is a highly active musician and songwriter in the roots, americana, old-timey and psychedelic soul genres.