Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Blaine County Women Named Idaho Women of the Year
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As a thought leader, Aimee Christensen is always ahead of the trend, said Shelley Cohen, director of Solar programs at District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility.
 
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Aimee Christensen just returned from the UN Climate Change negotiations held last week in Madrid.

There she observed what was going on and tweeted about what she was hearing. And she participated in several conferences that allowed business and government leaders to learn from one another and mobilize new projects tackling climate change.

She sat in on a sustainability innovation conference with innovators who are touting new ways to help soils hold water to survive drought and to make lab grown meats that reduce the water footprint from raising beef. And she networked with business leaders representing such firms as Volkswagen and Smart Grid Technology.

For those and other efforts Christensen has been named a 2020 Woman of the Year by Idaho Business Review. Joining her is Idaho Rep. Muffy Davis, a Paralympic medalist who coached swim team with Christensen in high school.

“It’s an honor and super encouraging to be recognized, and I’m very excited about being in such company,” said Christensen. “I am grateful to be able to work each day to progress a better future here in Blaine County, across Idaho and around the world. The Sun Valley Institute, my advisory firm Christensen Global Strategies and my board memberships all provide opportunities to directly make a difference as we seek to build a more equitable, secure and thriving community and world.”

Christensen and Davis were among 50 women who will be honored at a 2020 gala on March 11. They were chosen from more than 220 nominations of “healers, warriors, storytellers, trailblazers and connectors” who live in such diverse places as Salmon, Idaho Falls, Coeur D’Alene and Pocatello.

The women were scored on four criteria: excellence in leadership, professional accomplishment, mentorship and community involvement.

“Competition was fierce,” noted Idaho’s assistant minority Senate leader Cherie Buckner-Webb, a member of the panel. “The honorees came from all industries and professions, from education and health care to science, government and fine arts.”

Christensen founded the Sun Valley Institute, a Center for Resilience, after returning home from working in Washington, D.C., to help care for her father Doug Christensen. She also co-founded TEDxSunValley.

Christensen was inspired with a passion and love for nature at an early age by her mother Ann Christensen, who stored dead birds and other critters in the freezer for the kids to examine. And her father taught her the value of fighting for rights and justice.

“I remember my mother fighting for a statewide ballot initiative for solar energy while we lived in Marin Country and my father was on the board of Marin County Conservation League where he fought for and gained protection for keeping buildings off the hilltops. Because of that you can now see the golden hilltops—they have not been developed,” she said. “Given their example, when I went out into the world, I wanted to do something.”

Christensen learned about the correlation between environmental health and national security and healthy economies after she graduated from Stanford Law School and began working in green leadership positions at Google.org, the U.S. Department of Energy, World Bank and Baker & McKenzie as an early leader in the emerging field of Climate Change and Clean Energy Practice. She has been a special advisor to the United Nations and is now curator of the Sun Valley Forum, which she founded to improve local economic and environmental resiliency following the 2013 Beaver Creek fire.

The Forum has grown to attract people from throughout the nation and even the world, all who come together to brainstorm solutions to some of the world’s most perplexing problems.

“Aimee founded the Sun Valley Institute to find replicable ways that communities can become more resilient and self-sustaining,” said Shelley Cohen, who worked with Christensen at the White House.  “The Forum is now widely recognized as the place where thought leaders, financiers and deal makers go to turn sustainable ideas into action. Aimee is always innovating, researching and developing ideas and concepts that help businesses and communities grow and be more sustainable, just as she did while working with organizations, such as Google and Virgin.”

Julie Ann Wrigley, president of Wrigley Investments and a board member of the Sun Valley Institute, said that Christensen is one of those rare people who excels in leadership, volunteerism, business accomplishments and mentorship.

“Aimee is one of the world’s most significant leaders in a number of environmental businesses, entities and organizations,” she said. She is tirelessly committed to creating a better place for future generations.”

LOOKING FORWARD

The Sun Valley Forum and its Youth Forum, which was initiated last year, will be held June 7 through 10, 2020 in Ketchum.

 

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