Prior to coming to the Garrison Institute, Jonathan L. 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.”