Gathered in the backyard of Ben Cohen’s home, 200 guests and Vermont Business for Social Responsibility members celebrated the group’s 25th anniversary and the remarkable achievements of Duane Peterson, co-founder of SunCommon. Peterson was honored with the Terry Ehrich Award for Excellence in Socially Responsible Business. Named for the late owner of Hemmings Motor News and a founding member of VBSR, the award is given to a VBSR member who best exemplifies Terry Ehrich’s commitment to the environment, workplace, progressive public policy, and community.
Business can be a natural extension of who we are…that the same values which guide our lives can guide the way we walk in business. – Duane Peterson
“Duane is a natural fit to receive this award,” said Andrea Cohen, former Executive Director of VBSR. “Duane’s professional career has been dedicated to the values of social responsibility, demonstrating that the ‘three P’s’ (People, Profit, and Planet) are essential for a strong and sustainable economy.”
“I knew Terry,” said Peterson, “and really value his kindness and thoughtfulness. He showed us that business can be a natural extension of who we are…that the same values which guide our lives can guide the way we walk in business. For Terry, and these wonderful leaders since, doing right in business is not a hardship nor burden, it’s an honor to be able to wield the resources of a business towards justice…for employees, vendors, communities, customers and the very habitats that sustain our lives.”
A social entrepreneur, Peterson is on his seventh career with stints as a medic, police officer, non- profit manager, political campaigner, justice department official, legislative director and values-led business practitioner. The common thread: organizing people to take meaningful action towards positive change. He moved to Vermont in 1996 to help Ben use Ben & Jerry’s as a force for social change. After 12 years there as Ben’s Chief of Stuff, Duane left to launch his latest venture, SunCommon, to make it easy and affordable for homeowners to help repower Vermont with clean, safe and local solar power. A Benefit Corporation and a Certified BCorp, SunCommon is Vermont’s largest solar business with 100 workers. Duane has been a part of the VBSR community since 1996 and his wife Laura has served as VBSR’s Program Manager. He’s a member of the Social Venture Network and serves on the Board of VPIRG as well as VBSR.
“Of the many aspects I love about this opportunity is choosing the people we surround ourselves with. One of the reasons I start ventures is that I want to create a place I’d want to work at. What a gift,” said Peterson. “It’s great to be in this gathering of committed souls, folks who seek to use the power of business for social and environmental change. It’s a testament to how deeply ingrained these values are in much of Vermont’s business community.”
To see the rest of the photos from Duane Peterson awarded VBSR Terry Ehrich Award, click here!