The Sierra Club (and the Planet) Will Miss Greg Haegele

greg sierra club
For several years now, Treehugger readers have been reading weekly posts from my colleague and dear friend Greg Haegele, Deputy Executive Director here at the Sierra Club. I want to let you know that after a brave battle with cancer, Greg passed away peacefully on January 21, surrounded by his family. He left the world much better than he found it.

Our hearts go out to Greg's family and his close friends.

Greg had one of the greatest strategic minds the Sierra Club has ever seen. He was like a general, always thinking a few steps ahead, analyzing how best to deploy resources, motivate his troops and win.

Greg pushed us all to succeed with mentoring, leadership and passion. He waged war on climate change with a piercing intensity fueled by beautiful places in nature.A Sierra Club staff member since 2004, Greg served as Deputy Conservation Director, Interim Political Director, and Director of Conservation before assuming the post of Deputy Executive Director in 2009. Before joining us, he directed a variety of progressive activist organizations and served as campaign or field manager for a number of gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, and state and local electoral campaigns. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Emory University and a B.A. in philosophy from Whitman College, and taught philosophy at Emory and Carroll College in Helena, Montana.

As Sierra Club President Allison Chin said, "Greg dedicated himself with unparalleled drive and commitment to building the Sierra Club as the most powerful advocacy group for the environment. It was his unique blend of disciplined and strategic thinker, conscientious manager, mentor, visionary, and friend that Greg inspired volunteer leaders and staff throughout the organization to embrace the imperative of increasing Sierra Club's capacity and making the changes necessary to do so."

Understand that the Club is a completely different organization now than it was before Greg arrived, and he was the principal driver of this change. Greg embraced change; he was fearless. He knew that it was hard, but he never shied away from change when it was necessary to achieve our goals.

We witnessed Greg's bravery this past year, outworking the rest of us while he fought the debilitating effects of cancer. Greg traveled until he could no longer physically do so. He came to the office until the very end, spending all the energy he had saved up on making the Sierra Club more effective.

Greg was leading us to victory on climate change, and the Climate Recovery Partnership may be his greatest conservation legacy. After President Obama's victory in 2008, Greg wrote that "if we're to rise to the challenge of climate change, the single biggest task we have is to sustain and build public support for the solutions America and the world need." He is right, of course, and when we ultimately win on climate, we will owe our success in large part to Greg.

As committed as Greg was to the world, we will remember him best as a friend. He cared about us and wanted us to succeed. He celebrated with us, comforted us and reminded us why we're here.

I've tried to focus more on what Greg has given us than on how much more he had left to give. But the truth is that he left us too soon, and we will miss him terribly.

If you knew Greg and would like to share a memory or thought with others, please visit the memorial page we created in his honor.

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