Wendy James established The Better World Group (BWG) in 1999. In the twenty years since creating BWG she developed unique expertise in the media, government, corporate and nonprofit sectors, with a special focus on environmental issues. She worked with environmental and equity groups, government organizations, businesses and other progressive organizations in framing their environmental strategies and implementing advocacy campaigns in support of a wide array of policies and projects.
Over the years Wendy was recognized by many organizations including the Climate Action Reserve which presented Wendy with the Mary D. Nichols Climate Action Champion Award, which identifies outstanding leadership and commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Among her other accolades, Wendy was honored by CLCV with an Environmental Leadership Award, recognized by the Coalition for Clean Air with a Ralph B. Perry III Lifetime Achievement Award, was honored by the California Climate Action Registry and named Small Business Woman of the Year for California’s 20th Senate District and 43rd and 44th Assembly Districts. Under her leadership, the company was named Small Business of the Year by the San Fernando Business Journal. She currently serves as a founding board member of the Sault Tribe Business Association, an organization of tribal-owned businesses.
Throughout her career, Wendy James has served in leadership roles on countless nonprofit Boards including:
Coalition for Clean Air, Chair
Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters Board Member
California State Parks Foundation Executive Committee Member
Burbank Water and Power, Chair
Burbank Boys and Girls Club Board Member
U-C Davis Institute for Transportation Studies Advisory Board
California League of Conservation Voters, Vice President
CLCV Environmental leadership Forum, Co-Chair
Burbank Sustainability Commission, Chair
UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation Advisory Committee
Sault Tribe Business Alliance Founding Board Member
Wendy’s New Chapter
As I look forward to the next chapter in my life, I can’t help but reflect on the amazing experience of these 20 years – especially the opportunity to collaborate (and commiserate) with so many of you. Thanks to the confidence that clients put in us – and the incredibly talented people who work for us and with us – I have had the opportunity to be part of moving forward some of the most important environmental and energy policies in the world! For that I will be forever grateful. We advanced a new concept of building broad-based coalitions needed to enact these policies, working behind the scenes to resolve differences and speaking with one voice in public. Today these strategies seem commonplace and our team continues to build and manage coalitions that are helping California continue to lead the way.
Our very first coalition was the Zero Emission Vehicle Alliance, and we fought many attempts to kill the ZEV program. It is beyond rewarding now to see more than a million EVs on the road, and individual car companies announcing plans to build 50 million EVs. From there, we used the approach to help enact the first GHG standards for vehicles, the first Renewable Portfolio Standard for electricity (where we were some of the first to produce communication materials in English and Spanish,) the first CO2 standards with AB32, the Low Carbon Fuel Standard – and way too much defense of all of these policies too.
And along the way, we also got to do some very fun and rewarding projects – food for the soul – that sometimes provided more immediate rewards than you can get from these big policy wins. After conducting a rather grim assessment of open space needs in former Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh’s district, we were able to secure funding to help build 29 state-of-the art playgrounds in low-income communities, working with the LA Conservation Corps members. We also worked with those partners to build community gardens in at-risk neighborhoods. We worked with the City of LA, the state and the entertainment industry to identify and serve a missing link in studio recycling efforts, developing the “Hollywood Recycles” program that collected recyclable materials from off-lot productions. We worked with the Canadian Government to help find markets for clean energy technologies; with Water Keeper organizations up and down the state to raise visibility of key initiatives; we helped bring a business voice to LA’s successful and visionary “Clean-up, Green-up” initiative; and we helped deliver tens of millions of dollars in clean transportation funding as the Outreach Coordinator for a regional clean transportation entity. We also played a role in several key ballot measures – helping raise awareness to get the needed 2/3rds vote to pass LA’s Prop. O storm water measure by working with city council members to pose with iconic “Os” across the city; helping to stop Prop 23 that would have killed AB 32; and most recently helping pass the statewide ban on plastic bags.
As we continue to advance clean energy and clean transportation policies in California while fighting rollbacks federally, we are also spending more and more time engaged in critical conservation activities, primarily around defense of public lands. The work is exciting in a state like California that is blessed with so much awe-inspiring natural beauty, yet it is also urgent given the threats coming from D.C.
I’ve had fun. I’ve been inspired and honored by the work and the relationships. And I have a stack of books and a list of places to visit – and a very patient and loving husband waiting. Thank you for being a part of my journey and for your continued support to help make a better world!!