Jonathan Lash was named the sixth president of Hampshire College on May 11, 2011. He is an internationally recognized expert on practical solutions to global sustainability, climate change, and development challenges.
President Lash came to Hampshire from World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank focusing on issues ranging from low carbon development to sustainable transportation. Under his leadership WRI quadrupled its budget and globalized its work, with offices in eight countries and partners in more than 50 countries.
Additionally, from 1993 to 1999, Lash co-chaired the President’s Council on Sustainable Development, a group of government, business, labor, civil rights, and environmental leaders appointed by Bill Clinton that developed visionary recommendations for strategies to promote sustainable development. He played a key role in the creation and success of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, which in 2007 issued the highly influential “Call to Action” on global warming.
Lash attended The Putney School in Vermont, which deeply informed his sensibilities about student-driven, experiential modes of education. After receiving his A.B. from Harvard College, he joined the Peace Corps, during which time he met and married Eleanor Scattergood, a fellow volunteer. Together they worked on community-based development projects in the Dominican Republic. Upon returning to the United States, he continued his work with the Peace Corps, training volunteers bound for El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
Lash earned his M.Ed. and J.D. from Catholic University. He began his legal career as a federal prosecutor and then became senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he litigated on issues related to pollution control, federal coal leasing, strip mining, and energy conservation.
Lash was named Vermont Commissioner of Environmental Conservation in 1985, and in 1987 was appointed Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources. In that capacity he helped write, win enactment of, and implement innovative statutes pertaining to pollution prevention, solid waste management, and protection of pristine streams. He became director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School, rated the best program of its kind in the United States, in 1990.
Lash has written frequently about issues of sustainability and has served on a variety of international commissions and boards. He was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics” by Ethisphere magazine (2007) and one of the world’s “Top 100 Most Influential People in Finance” by Treasury and Risk Management magazine (2005). Rolling Stone magazine (2005) profiled Lash as one of 25 “Warriors and Heroes” who were “fighting to stave off the planet-wide catastrophe.”