The Garrison Institute is pleased to announce that Jonathan Wiesner will become its next CEO. His career spans 35 years as a successful executive and entrepreneur in the apparel business, and 25 years serving on the boards of major non-profits and NGOs.
Founded in 2003, the Garrison Institute is a non-profit organization which applies the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future. Working collaboratively with practitioners in diverse fields, the Institute develops and hosts retreats and symposia, produces research and publications, and provides a hub for ongoing learning networks. It has established key initiatives in the fields of ecology, caregiving, education, and organizational leadership.
Examples of innovative programs the Institute develops include contemplative-based resilience (CBR) trainings for humanitarian aid workers, caregivers and teachers; and Pathways to Planetary Health, which explores ways of shifting mindsets and systems from the dominant, ecologically harmful paradigm to a regenerative one. To date over 75,000 people have participated in the Institute’s programs.
“I am honored to be able to serve as CEO of the Garrison Institute,” said Jonathan Wiesner. “The organization is exceptionally appealing to me because of its smart and unique approaches addressing both of my priorities : helping refugees and aid workers and protecting our planet. I have a profound respect and admiration for the organization and its mission, and look forward to helping grow its work and impact.”
“We’re delighted and grateful to have Jonathan at the helm,” said Jonathan F. P. Rose, the Garrison Institute’s co-founder and co-chair of its board. “He brings a global network and a long, distinguished record of success in our core program areas, especially in the humanitarian relief and environmental fields. We will benefit enormously from the breadth and depth of his strategic leadership skills and operational experience.”
Wiesner will take over from Marc Weiss, who served as the Institute’s Executive Director for the last two years. The Garrison Institute wishes to express gratitude for his leadership. Weiss will continue as a member of the senior leadership team, serving as the Institute’s Managing Director.
Prior to coming to the Garrison Institute, Wiesner served for 25 years on the board of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and is currently Chairman Emeritus. The IRC is one of the world’s leading humanitarian relief organizations. In over 40 countries and 26 U.S. cities, it provides clean water, shelter, health care, education and empowerment support to refugees and displaced people. Wiesner helped direct the growth of the IRC from an annual budget of $70 million in 1995 to $800 million in 2018. It is recognized for its efficiency by Forbes, Charity Navigator and others.
He has visited most of IRC’s programs, both overseas and in the U.S. “Every time I go into the field, I am in awe of the people we serve, and the staff who work with them” Wiesner said. “The refugees have suffered unspeakable horrors, yet they have tremendous resilience, hope and optimism. They want nothing more than to rebuild their lives. Our staff is extraordinary and inspiring, working tirelessly in the world’s toughest places. That’s why the Garrison Institute’s work on contemplative-based resilience is so important; it can help them avoid burnout and continue their critical work.”
Among his leadership positions in the apparel industry, Mr. Wiesner was, most recently, CEO and owner of Sustainable Apparel Group/Threads 4 Thought. “Apparel is the second dirtiest industry after oil,” he said. “So I made it my mission to build sustainability into it, utilizing sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.”
Wiesner also Chairs the Board of the New York Region of the Trust for Public Land and is Chairman Emeritus of the Westchester Land Trust. Both organizations focus on conserving land and providing communities with access to parks and open space. His first job out of college was working as an administrator for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
“The environmental thread has been consistent throughout my career,” Wiesner said. “I sold my company over a year ago so that I could commit this next chapter of my life to working in the non-profit sector focused on environmental and humanitarian aid, the issues I am most passionate about.”