Kellogg World Alumni Magazine Spring 2008Kellogg School of Management
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Wendy Church '92 and her staff
Wendy Church '92 (holding dog) and her staff face the elements with a smile.

Alumni Profile: Wendy Church '92

Kellogg grad cultivates sustainable communities

By Jennifer Beck

Wendy Church '92 is changing the world one classroom at a time. The executive director of Facing the Future, a Seattle-based nonprofit providing educational programming on global issues, believes making a difference is possible with the right approach.

"We're not going to change world problems unless we have an educated public," says the Kellogg School graduate. Facing the Future's programs throughout the U.S. and internationally are designed to help by providing information about a range of interlinked global issues — climate change, poverty, health crises and conflict — and the organization strives to foster critical thinking about these and other topics. In 2006, under Church's leadership, Facing the Future was recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education for outstanding service to environmental education.

Church has found that working with teachers is key to advancing communication about critical social challenges. The organization's workshops serve more than 1,500 teachers annually. She points to the programs' accessibility and quality as two compelling features. Lessons, which are field tested and linked to educational standards, come planned with time-challenged teachers in mind. Some materials are even available online at, and low-income schools can obtain the curriculum at no charge. Last year, more than 300,000 new students experienced Facing the Future's programs. The cost? "Less than $2 per student," Church says.

The Kellogg alum has the organization on course to provide its offerings to more than 12.5 million students annually by 2020. Progress is already underway thanks in part to a recent grant from the Hewlett-Packard Company to develop a climate change curriculum. In addition, Facing the Future received marketing support from Scholastic that allowed them to distribute materials to 100,000 educators in middle schools and high schools across the United States.

The quality of Church's leadership hasn't gone unnoticed at Facing the Future, which has a staff of eight and a board of 15, as well as volunteers and interns. Lee Minto, a founder and board member of the organization, describes the executive director as "growth oriented and focused on quality." She also admires Church's outlook. "She sees things as a challenge rather than a problem," Minto says. "She is an anticipatory manager, and I think that's very helpful."

Church credits the Kellogg School with cultivating her interest in nonprofits. "I had never thought about working in nonprofit until I went to Kellogg. I had a lot of opportunity to explore that there," she says, referencing the nonprofit projects she was involved in during her MBA experience. Prior to attending Kellogg, Church was an engineer at companies including Intel. She later worked in product marketing for KLA Instruments.

Ready for a career change, Church applied to only one business school. "Kellogg was the only one I wanted to go to," she says. She found the curriculum there advantageous to her future pursuits. "The well-rounded nature of the Kellogg program prepared me to run a business," she reflects. After graduation, she worked in management consulting, earned a doctorate degree from Oregon State University in Bioresource Engineering as a GAAN Fellow, and eventually found her way back to the world of nonprofits. Before joining Facing the Future in 2003, Church served as executive director of Tacoma, Washington's Citizens for a Healthy Bay, and has co-authored two global sustainability textbooks.

The Kellogg grad has found that running a nonprofit is similar to running any business. "The only difference is that you also have a social mission to manage," she says.

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