Eco-entrepreneur to Speak at Knox College Commencement

Majora Carter, a MacArthur "genius" Fellow, will address Class of 2011

March 11, 2011

Majora Carter, a nationally known eco-entrepreneur and MacArthur "genius" Fellow, will deliver the Commencement address at Knox College on June 4, 2011.Majora Carter

As is the custom at Knox, Carter was nominated by the graduating class. Following a long-standing tradition, Knox College will award Carter an honorary degree.

"Majora Carter was a clear favorite with the senior class," said Tomi Olotu, treasurer of the senior class. "She is a pioneer in helping us understand how environmentally sustainable activity, economic development, neighborhood development, and even our own health are all interconnected. I'm looking forward to hearing her speak."

Recent Knox College Commencement speakers have included Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, William Jefferson Clinton, and Madeleine Albright. The 2010 Commencement speaker was Tina Tchen, who at the time was Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Tchen now serves as chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama.

Carter runs her own consulting firm, Majora Carter Group, L.L.C., and hosts The Promised Land, a Peabody Award-winning public radio series that spotlights people who are transforming communities. Carter advises businesses, governments, universities, foundations and other organizations on strategies for climate adaptation, urban micro-agribusiness and leadership development.

"Majora Carter helps citizens improve the world -- by starting in their own neighborhoods. Once again, the senior class has chosen a Commencement speaker who reflects their values and inspires all of us to improve our own piece of the planet," said Roger Taylor, president of Knox College.

Carter founded Sustainable South Bronx, a nonprofit organization, in 2001 as a way to improve the community where she was born and raised. She has been instrumental in creating riverfront parks, building green roofs and successfully implementing the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training (BEST) program, a pioneering system for green-collar job training and job placement. Her organization spearheaded new policies and legislation that fueled demand for green-collar jobs. She led Sustainable South Bronx until 2008.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation selected Carter as a 2005 "genius" Fellow for her foresight and ability to implement effective change into the future. The foundation described her as "a relentless and charismatic urban strategist who seeks to address the disproportionate environmental and public health burdens experienced by residents of the South Bronx. Working in partnership with local government, businesses, and neighborhood organizations, she creates new opportunities for transportation, fitness and recreation, nutrition, and economic development."

Carter has earned numerous additional honors. She has been named as one of Fast Company's "100 Most Creative People in Business" and as one of Essence Magazine's "25 Most Influential African-Americans."

She received a bachelor's degree in 1988 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where she majored in cinema studies, and completed a master of fine arts degree from New York University in 1997.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.