About Us

Purpose:

The CSR Group provides tools and solutions for a holistic approach to responsible business.


Vision:

To enable organizations to evolve into forces for positive social and environmental change in all the communities in which they operate, thereby creating a more sustainable world.

Where we’ve been:

In 2002, the CSR Group launched as a pioneer in corporate social responsibility (CSR) consulting. For the past decade, we’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies on CSR Strategy, Ethics, Stakeholder Engagement, Sustainability Reporting, and CSR Communications. Through our work with past clients, including Dell, Brown-Forman, The Coca Cola Africa Foundation, and Whole Foods Market, we have developed great breadth and depth of knowledge. These experiences have helped clarify our core values and shape our direction over the years.

Where we are:

Now, as we begin our 2nd decade of helping organizations define and realize their sustainability goals, we’ve been thinking long and hard about how to bring our services to a broader audience. Can we democratize sustainability and create a more inclusive conversation? Can we increase the number of medium-sized and small businesses that are growing and thriving through implementing responsible practices?

 

Where we’re going:

In shifting our focus from intensive one-on-one consulting to guidance through tools and solutions, we reach a broader audience. Our subscription services and a-la-carte offerings empower any organization in any industry to become a responsible business and contribute to a more sustainable world.  

 

Our Team

Paula Ivey

Paula Ivey is a pioneer in the field of corporate sustainability. Having paved the way since 1995, Paula has played a leader­ship role globally in the rapidly evolving field of sustainability/ESG. She is the president and founder of The CSR Group LLC, a leading sustainability advisory firm she launched in 2002.

Gifted and adept at leading companies through the development, and implementation, of a holistic sustainability strategy, Paula brings her vision and extensive knowledge on the many aspects of ESG to her clients, always through the lens of the business case of reducing risk and maximizing value creation. Paula also led the development and investment raise for an innovative sustainable supply chain software platform, and has recently been working with private equity. Paula’s expertise is at the crux of sustainability, globalization, innovation, and impact investment.

Paula is also extremely talented at leading and training executives, boards, and teams, and at facilitating stakeholder conversations regarding ESG. She has developed and led engagements with over forty global corporations, including but not limited to - Whole Foods, Dell, AMD, Brown Forman, Altria, The McGraw-Hill Companies (S&P Global), Burt’s Bees, Genesis (Hyundai) and Devon Energy.

Sought-after as a speaker, she has delivered more than fifty talks, including engagements at the United Nations and APEC, as well as most of the leading conferences on sustainability globally. At the APEC Ministerial meetings in Bali Indonesia in 2013, Paula was hired to advise on “supply chain responsibility as a country-level competitive advantage”. She has been interviewed by leading media outlets over 25 times (including NPR and The Wall Street Journal) as a sustainability expert.

Paula has also been a faculty member teaching sustainability at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, Pinchot/BGI, and Texas State’s McCoy School of Business. Paula is a mentor at the Austin Technology Incubator of “Sustainability Deep Tech”, and has been a judge at many start-up competitions.

 

She has served on the board of over a dozen non-profits and is currently serving on the advisory council of The University of Texas’ Environmental Science Institute where she recently raised $50,000 by collaborating with filmmaker Scott Rice, and actor Adrian Grenier to transform Hot Science Cool Talks into a PBS and Podcast series. She is the recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the City of Austin.

Paula holds a Masters in International Business from Thunderbird and a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a Managing Ethics in Organizations certificate from Bentley College. She is a graduate of the 1997 class of Leadership Texas. Paula is a global citizen and connector, and is proficient in Spanish and French, and has US and Australian residency.

Louise Raymond is a senior executive with more than 20 years of experience in sustainability and Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) management and strategy including as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for S&P Global (formerly The McGraw-Hill Companies and McGraw Hill Financial).

 

Louise has a track record in designing ESG strategies and evaluating ESG performance that focuses on minimizing risk and maximizing opportunity consistent with leading reporting frameworks and investor priorities. She has conducted assessments to determine the financial materiality of ESG performance and integrate ESG and risk management. She has developed and implemented employee initiatives and communication strategies to embed environmental and social practices and build a culture of inclusion. Her approach enables cross business and functional engagement in ESG strategy and performance and ensures alignment with external reporting standards and recommendations such as the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure. She has hands-on experience related to key ESG reporting initiatives such as the U.N. Global Compact’s Sustainable Development Goals, S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Index, the Global Reporting Initiative and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

 

Louise’s board service has included the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future and the New York Better Business Bureau’s Education & Research Foundation. She also served on the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship Sustainability Leaders Network and EY’s Climate Change & Sustainability Leadership Committee. She was named a "CR Superstar" by CR Magazine in 2017.

Louise Raymond
Anne-Marie McGonnigal

Anne-Marie is an innovative business development and communications advisor with strong expertise in sustainability/ESG issues and data. She has more than 20 years’ experience building and expanding strategic programs that deliver results in the private and social sectors.

Recent roles have included building and managing ESG reporting activities for Morgan Stanley as part of the Global Sustainable Finance team and advising ESG data and materiality startup, Datamaran. Past roles have included working as a management consultant in the European telecommunications industry, and serving as a senior-level fundraiser and executive for nonprofit institutions on both sides of the Atlantic.

International experience and perspective: Builds initiatives inside firms and between coalitions, and works effectively to engage stakeholders and prospects across organizations and cultures.

Areas of specialty include: Sustainability/ESG issues and management, donor/investor engagement, organization building, bridging silos and working across large organizations, cross-cultural engagement, communications.

Industry experience includes: Financial services, social/nonprofit sector, retail, telecommunications.

Anne-Marie holds an AB from Mount Holyoke College and a MBA from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington, (which included a semester at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany). She completed a post-graduate executive program at the Tuck School at Dartmouth. She speaks fluent English (native) and German. 

Anne-Marie Serves on a nonprofit board in the fashion industry and is a head class agent for her alma mater.

Anne Robertson, who has been a key partner and strategist to socially responsible businesses and non-profit corporations for over 15 years, is an investor, fundraiser, environmental health advocate, especially for children’s health, and entrepreneur. She prides herself on bringing people together on the important issues of our time.  

 

Anne has demonstrated her passion for a healthy environment for children by serving on boards of organizations that have this as part of their mission. She currently serves on the following Boards: Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center; Healthy Child Healthy World; Clean Products Action; Texas Campaign for the Environment; and American Performing Arts Collaborative and Health Code. Her accomplishments include serving as dinner chair for One World, One Child and raising a million dollars for Healthy Child, Healthy World and Arts for Healing to expand their educational initiatives. In addition, Anne is an Advisory Board Member for the Sustainable Food Center in Austin, Texas, and is active in bringing healthy vending programs to schools, universities and youth sports centers.  

 

Anne lives in Austin with her husband and four children where she active in local organic food production projects with Resolution Gardens and Slow Money. She is also working in Houston, Texas with Citizens League for Environmental Action Now (CLEAN), Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) and Three Branches Health to develop a national awareness and action campaign for safe chemicals and a healthy environment.

Anne Robertson
Leo Ramirez, Jr

Leo Ramirez, Jr. has launched and managed social ventures, lead multi-disciplinary teams, and built solid relationships with civic and corporate leaders.
 

His 24-year career has spanned executive management, business development, consulting, nonprofit management, technical support and engineering positions with Southwest Key Programs, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Coremetrics, Trilogy and Apple.

Leo co-founded my first non-profit, EDCO Ventures, in 2005 to address job creation in economically underprivileged regions through high-growth, entrepreneurial ventures. He then co-founded MiniDonations, whose mission was to make social impact, through micro-donations, a part of everyday life. Leo also co-founded Copán, LLC, which provided NextDooring services from Latin America.

Additionally, Leo is a Board Member at CASA of Travis County, Board Advisor and former VP of Memberships on Mexic-Arte Museum's Board of Directors, Board Advisor for Dance International, and Entrepreneur Mentor for CleanTech Open. He was formerly VP of Development for MexNet Alliance Board of Directors

Leo was a Deacon, Choir Member and 2 & 3 year old Sunday School Teacher at First Presbyterian Church of Austin and have volunteered for many other non-profit organizations. He also created “Cliff’s Notes for Dads,” Austin’s first childbirth prep class for new fathers.

Leo attended Stanford University’s Computer Systems Engineering Program from 1992–1996.

 

Advisory Board

Joel Makower

Joel Makower is chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group Inc., producer of GreenBiz.com.

For 20 years, Joel has been a well-respected voice on business, the environment, and the bottom line. Joel is chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group Inc., creator of GreenBiz.com as well as research reports and events on the corporate sustainability strategy and trends. He hosts the annual GreenBiz Forums and VERGE conferences around the world, and is author of the annual State of Green Business report.

In 2012, he was awarded the Hutchens Medal by the American Society for Quality, which cited “his ability to tell compelling stories that both inform and inspire business leaders toward profitable action.”

A former nationally syndicated columnist, Joel is author or co-author of more than a dozen books, including his latest, Strategies for the Green Economy. Previous books include Beyond the Bottom Line: Putting Social Responsibility to Work for Your Business and the World, about the profit and potential of socially responsible business practices; The E-Factor: The Bottom-Line Approach to Environmentally Responsible Business, on how companies are responding to environmental challenges in positive and profitable ways; and The Green Consumer, a best-selling guide to the environmental marketplace.

He also writes “Two Steps Forward” (readjoel.com), a popular blog on sustainable business, clean technology, and green marketing.

Joel has been a commentator on environmental topics for public radio's "Marketplace" and appears frequently in both broadcast and print media. He serves as a board member or adviser to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and speaks to companies, industry groups, and business schools around the world.

The Associated Press has called him “The guru of green business practices.”

Jeff Smith

Jeffrey Smith is a partner in the New York office of Crowell & Moring and is a member of the firm's Environment & Natural Resources and Corporate groups. In addition to working on matters relating to financings, underwritings and mergers and acquisitions across industries on a national and international level, Jeff provides day-to-day counseling on environmental management and corporate governance issues, environmental issues of interest to the SEC, shareholder relations involving environmental matters and environmental litigation.

 Among the transactions in which Jeff has recently participated are:

  • Representation of the underwriters in connection with two registered debt offerings by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. totaling US $750 million. 

  • Representation of Ashland Inc. in connection with the sale of its global distribution business, Ashland  Distribution, to Nexeo Solutions, LLC, an affiliate of TPG Capital.  

  • Representation of a NYSE-listed airline in connection with its merger with another NYSE-listed airline.

  • Representation of a hedge fund in connection with the financial implications of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and ongoing cleanup. 

  • Representation of the underwriters in connection with the US$450 million registered debt offering of Ralcorp Holdings, Inc., which manufactures, distributes and markets Post branded cereals and other food products.

  • Representation of World Fuel Services Corporation, a leading global fuel logistics company, in a US $200 million registered offering of common stock on the New York Stock Exchange. 

  • Representation of American Water Works Company, Inc., the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company, in connection with its US$775 million and US$516 million secondary offerings of common stock. 

  • Representation of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company in connection with its US$2.4 billion acquisition of Medarex Inc. 

  • Representation of a hedge fund in connection with the bankruptcy and reorganization of a U.S.-based coal company. 

  • Representation of Nestlé S.A. in connection with its US$39 billion agreement to sell its stake in Alcon, Inc. to Novartis AG. 

 

Prior to joining Crowell & Moring, Jeff was a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, where he founded the environmental practice group, in addition to serving a five-year term as the firm's managing partner (administration). Jeff has been repeatedly cited as one of the country's preeminent environmental practitioners by, among others, Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business since 2007; The Best Lawyers in America since 2007; PLC Which Lawyer? The Legal 500 in 2011; and Who's Who Legal: The International Who's Who of Environmental Lawyers.

Jeff frequently speaks on environmental issues, including guest lectures at Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Georgetown, NYU and Pace law schools. He was the first Chairman of the ABA's Special Committee on Environmental Disclosure and testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment regarding potential SEC requirements for disclosure relating to climate change, leading up to the SEC's 2008 Guidance Memorandum on this issue. He has written a chapter on SEC disclosure issues in real estate transactions in the ABA book Environmental Issues in Real Estate Transactions, chapters on SEC disclosure and officers' and directors' fiduciary obligations for the ABA treatise Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, articles in the Review of Securities and Commodities Regulation, the Carbon and Climate Law Review and the Capital Markets Law Journal on corporate disclosure relating to climate change, an article on the implications of global warming on business transactions, published in the N.Y.U. Journal of Law and Business, and a series of articles on climate change in the U.S. courts, published in Environmental Liability.

Jeff received an AB cum laude from Harvard University in 1974 and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981, where he was a legal writing instructor and president of the Environmental Law.

Gregory Battista

Greg in an environmental lawyer and has over 25 years of experience handling matters related to environmental risk analysis, federal and state compliance, sustainability strategy and reporting remediation, energy operations, and corporate transactions.

Greg currently heads the environmental practice team at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York City. Since 1992, Greg has served as adjunct professor of Environmental Law and Management at Stevens Institute of Technology. Earlier in his career, Greg was General Counsel of LRN Corporation, a Senior Environmental Attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, a Deputy Director for the New Jersey Hazardous Waste Facilities Siting Commission and an Assistant Director at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Geoff Cline

A former professional songwriter and touring musician, Geoff Cline decided to go to law school after his band broke up and he had to deal with complicated intellectual property issues. After graduating from the University of Southern California Law Center, he entered private practice with the law firm of Buchalter, Nemer Fields and Younger. During his career at the firm, Mr. Cline represented clients in the areas of labor and employment law, business litigation, entertainment and general corporate matters. He also undertook public service work, providing pro bono legal services for persons with HIV and AIDS in conjunction with AIDS Project Los Angeles, the LA County Bar and HALSA. He is the author of "Discrimination Against Persons With HIV and AIDS," which was published as part of the Civil Rights Litigation and Attorneys Fees Handbook (1993, Clark, Boardman. et. al.)

Geoff left private practice to become General Counsel for Patagonia, Inc. and its affiliated entities around the world. During his tenure at Patagonia, he was part of the Senior Management team and was involved in all aspects of the Company's policies and practices, with responsibility for the Company's legal affairs and compliance globally. His experience includes vendor and supply chain audits and oversight, employment practices and policies, labeling and advertising issues, intellectual property protection, and extensive research, exploration and hands-on work on what the terms "sustainable" and "socially responsible" really mean in the context of an international business.

While at Patagonia, Geoff was an active participant in the creation of the Company's statement of corporate values and mission statement and the related training and education for employees in multiple locations. This work evolved into his interest, training and work as a consultant in organizational development, corporate culture, communication skills and leadership. Geoff's mentor in this area of his practice is Linda Brown, a founder of Pecos River Training and currently the principal in Wolf Creek Partners.

Geoff has broad experience in media, entertainment and intellectual property issues, having served as Associate General Counsel for HOB Entertainment, Inc. (House of Blues) and as a co-founder of Sovereign Artists, Inc., an independent record label.

Geoff has been a participant at the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has been a member of the boards of directors of a number of nonprofit corporations including Child Development Resources, Inc. and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. He is currently the President of the Board of Directors of Stonewall HeadStart, Inc. in Stonewall, TX.

​Expertise: Corporate Law, Supply Chain Responsibility, Employee Policy, Responsible Marketing and Labeling

Terry Mollner

Terry Mollner, EdD, is Founder, Chair, and Executive Director of Trusteeship Institute, Inc., a think tank and consulting firm founded in 1973 based on the economic theories of Mahatma Gandhi. Trusteeship Institute focuses on the development of socially responsible businesses.

In the 1970s, Dr. Mollner was one of the earliest pioneers of socially responsible investing and, in 1982, was one of the founders of the Calvert Socially Responsible Investment Fund, the first such fund with the full panoply of social screens. Today it is the largest family of such funds with nearly $7 billion under management. He also provided the leadership to create the Calvert Foundation that is pioneering "community investment" - investment to end poverty - as another new asset class in the professional investment community. Calvert Foundation currently manages over $200 million and is about to launch a program to make its note available to over 300 million EBay and Pay Pal customers.

Dr. Mollner is on the board of Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc., the United Way of Hampshire County, Inc., a fellow of the World Business Academy, a member of the Social Venture Network, and a founder and member of Business Association of Local Living Economies (BALLE) of the Pioneer Valley. He was also one of the founders of Spirit In Business, Inc. in the USA. Mollner has written numerous articles and books, particularly on the Mondragon Cooperatives, and is currently working on a book entitled The Love Skill: It Determines How We Experience Everything Else and How We Change Our World.

Lee Valkenaar

Lee Valkenaar has built a successful career on the belief that high quality relationships are the bottom line. In a competitive, price-driven industry, he has risen into a leadership role and contributed to the growth of the world's largest natural foods company by simply focusing on what matters most people.

Valkenaar currently serves as Co-Chair of the Whole Planet Foundation, Whole Foods Market's non-profit organization dedicated to micro-credit loans in developing communities around the globe. Prior to moving to Whole Foods Market's non-profit, he served in multiple Leadership roles, most recently as Whole Foods Market Executive Vice President of Global Support and Chief Executive Officer for Whole Planet Foundation.

After joining Whole Foods Market in 1987, Valkenaar was consistently promoted from team leader to the executive level within less than 10 years. During that time, he sought out increasingly more complex challenges, greater responsibility, while continuously achieving excellence.

Lee sits on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Organic Farmers Research Foundation (OFRF) a non-profit organization; Blue Avocado - a mission driven, triple bottom line manufacturer of reusable grocery bag systems; Volunteer Spot - an online, volunteer organizing & coordinating service that offers multiple solutions to the traditional volunteering hassles.

Lee is a member of the Advisory Board for The CSR Group, LLC as well as HUGO NATURALS, a manufacturer of high quality all natural body care products.

 

Strategic Alliances

One of The CSR Group's most valuable assets is the network of experts and industry leaders we've cultivated relationships with over the years. These alliances are trusted resources for partnerships and collaborations. As our client you have access to their specialities and expertise, should the needs of your project require them.

Encast

Encast boosts culture and brand by aligning businesses with their most important asset: people.

Culture-forward businesses, such as many of Fortune’s 500 Best Companies to Work For, exemplify the fact that those who put their people first outperform others.

Encast values-based analytics, which they acquire through philanthropic activities in the workplace, helps businesses develop more aligned employee and customer-centric programs which, in turn, will build stronger cultures, decrease attrition, and increase profitability.

Encast's ecosystem will help people and companies give away billions per year, all the while never charging a transaction fee to non-profits.

Equally as important: Encast will help bring people closer to each other. There AI will connect like-minded individuals, helping them learn to give and volunteer together, and bridge divisions between them - political, gender, socio-economic, religious - by finding common ground through philanthropic passions.

Learn more at encast.gives

American Sustainable Business  Council

The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) works with its members to develop a vision and policy framework for a sustainable market-based economy. A truly sustainable economy requires the responsible stewardship of all types of capital — social, financial, intellectual, and natural. All of these must be tended to make the economy productive, resilient, competitive, and equitable for businesses and their communities. 

Their call for a sustainable economy flows from both pragmatic and moral considerations. Morally, they recognize the fundamental rights of all people to develop their talents, earn a living wage, and be treated with dignity in the workplace. Pragmatically, without sustainability, our economy will stagger under the weight of rising inequality and other externalities, such as climate change.

All people engaged in the economy are interdependent. Each is both consumer and producer, both earner and spender. These roles must be kept in balance; jobs are created when consumers have money to spend and destroyed when they don’t. Businesses cannot succeed unless consumers have the ability to spend and the confidence to spend it. 

Based on these principles, ASBC engage in a wide range of policy issues. They work to explain the need for sustainability to policy makers, business leaders, and the public at large. ASBC pursues opportunities to develop new policy alternatives and business practices that reflect the triple bottom line criteria (people, planet, and profit) and lead toward a more sustainable economy.

The ideas of stewardship and wise investment to secure future prosperity is neither conservative nor liberal, neither Democrat nor Republican. It is a fundamental tenet of successful business and a core component of the American Dream.

Learn more at www.asbcouncil.org

 

The CSR Group Network

Our core team of thought leaders is complimented by experts in all the disciplines covering the vast realm of sustainability, so we have the ability to go deeply on issues as needed for our clients.

Contact Us

EMAIL: Visit Contact Us Page

PHONE: 512-441-4008 | 800-370-9945

MAILING ADDRESS: PO Box 5001 Austin, TX 78763

© 2018 by The CSR Group, LLC.