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SAN FRANCISCO, Jun. 08 /CSRwire/ – Presidio Graduate School (PGS) honored its 13th graduating class with a heartwarming commencement ceremony at the SFJAZZ Center. With frequent rounds of applause, voluminous cheering and occasional hooting, the 30 students of the Class of 2016 celebrated the culmination of years of intersectoral, interdisciplinary work and the launching (or relaunching) of fresh, forward-looking careers in sustainability leadership, policy, and business.

Kimbal Musk, The Kitchen. Photo by Zoë Lonergan,

Known for its innovative MBA and MPA degree programs in Sustainable Management, PGS has been developing visionaries, entrepreneurs, and change-makers since 2003; this year’s class is split between twenty-five MBA, three MPA and two Dual degree students, who are all following the now well-worn PGS path of breaking new sustainability ground in business and public administration with systems thinking, innovative green products and services, and cross-disciplinary partnerships and stakeholder engagement.

Graduates already changing the world

The ink on their diplomas barely dry, our graduates are already making an impact with new ventures, new products, and inspiring career transitions. In collaboration with her technical partner, the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, Julie Noblitt will take forward her Capstone project to develop a compostable substitute for the plastic films currently used to create single-serve packets for high-moisture foods. Dan Kurzrock is expanding ReGrained, which creates baked goods made with grain recovered from the beer brewing process, to introduce “Beer Flour”—a new ingredient that simultaneously reduces waste and closes a nutrient loop. Ny-Ann Nolasco is transitioning from the private sector to Goodwill Industries International to become their Business Applications Manager, helping to create solutions to poverty through the businesses they operate. In addition, Nils Moe received this year’s alumni Enterprise Vanguard Award for his innovative work as Managing Director of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. Our graduates credit relationships they’ve formed during their studies as critical to their ability to achieve the innovation and progress they came here to do. The PGS support network doesn’t end at graduation: “Once a Presidian, always a Presidian.”

Musk calls on PGS graduates to stay curious, connected, and challenged

Kimbal Musk, co-founder of The Kitchen and its non profit sister organization The Kitchen Community, delivered a relaxed yet heartfelt keynote address. Citing a winter sports accident that nearly cost him his mobility as the spark that drove him to commit the rest of his life to working on, and for, only the things he felt passionate about, Musk exhorted the graduates to do the same. “I came up with three guiding principles for my life and work,” Musk said. “And those are, do only those things that make you curious, give you a deep connection, and challenge you. Join me—give yourself the permission to follow your passion.” In recognition of his untiring service to sustainability in business, PGS granted Mr. Musk an honorary degree in sustainable management.

video by Jeremy Allen

Vision and leadership at PGS

Board chair Suzanne Farver presented PGS co-founder Steven Swig with a certificate awarding him director emeritus status on the board of directors. She recognized Mr. Swig’s considerable generosity and leadership throughout his tenure with PGS, including terms as president and board chair. Together with his co-founder Richard Gray, he developed the school’s vision for an experientially based, integrated sustainability curriculum.

Ms. Farver also announced that Dr. Mark Schulman has agreed to serve as president of Presidio Graduate School through June 2017, following the resignation of President and CEO William Shutkin. Mr. Shutkin leaves PGS after a productive five years of institutional growth, healthy funding, and stabilized enrollments. During his tenure, the school also achieved independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

“This is an exciting time for the school,” stated Ms. Farver. “Over the next few months, the board will be reaching out to the PGS community to develop a selection process for permanent leadership for the school. Having Mark on board as president gives us a solid base for operations as well as time to make the right decisions. His leadership comes at an important time for Presidio, with the launch of its first online MBA and MPA degree program scheduled to begin in winter 2017. ”

“I am energized by the faculty and students at PGS” said Dr. Schulman, “I continue to be impressed by the student body, alumni, and everyone involved in the school. This is a terrific opportunity to make a considerable impact on business, the environment and the world in which we live.”

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