By Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
Have you ever played the game where you describe a person in one word and everyone tries to guess who it is? If the person in question was Teresa Wade, the one word would be sustainability. Teresa is the founder of a nonprofit that focuses on sustainable solutions for the future. Her goals are as lofty as her devotion to the subject.
PINK: Tell me about yourself, your family, friends and where you grew up.
Teresa: I grew up a tomboy in Stone Mountain, Ga. I fished, camped and rode horses. I got ‘red Georgia clay’ dirty quite a lot. I was the first in my family to earn a college degree. My parents both came from large families with limited means. I was blessed that they prioritized me having every opportunity to excel by sacrificing and providing me with an education. They also demonstrated their strong work ethic that was instilled in my daily life. All was centered on faith-based guidance.
PINK: I understand you love to travel. Where have you been?
Teresa: Yes, through engagement in music, academic programs, mission work, leisure and professional associations, I have been all over the U.S. I have traveled to Russia three times, on mission trips, studied in Europe and enjoyed many Caribbean destinations. I have also played some of the best golf courses in the U.S.
PINK: If you could play a round of golf with anyone, who would it be?
Teresa: I was recently asked that question by a national golf publication. My answer was based on guts vs. the game. Arnold Palmer, my choice, plays with authority, confidence and the guiding principle of tempo in the takeaway, but power and acceleration at impact. I play the game of golf, and life, in that manner, strategically thinking, but executing with 125 percent. (Teresa has a 12 handicap.)
PINK: Share something about your passion for sustainability and what that means.
Teresa: As a principal of Sustainable Solutions, I lead a team of sustainability professionals to implement programs and initiatives that are credible, measurable and profitable for all sized profit and nonprofit organizations. This includes local government, corporations and communities. There are huge social, economic and social benefits from going green. My passion is to bring that knowledge to everyone.
Teresa recently founded Experience Green, a nonprofit organization on Hilton Head Island that provides experiential sustainability education for consumers and businesses. Her goal is to foster cross-community engagement and collaborative partnerships to move toward sustainable solutions. She is also chair of the newly formed sustainability committee of the Hilton Head Island Greater Island Council and is a member of Women in Philanthropy group.
Teresa came here from Nashville after a 15-year career as an artist, songwriter, publisher and musician. She said she was intrigued with the original vision of developer Charles Fraser’s sustainable development guidelines and felt herself in tune with those goals. She saw a tremendous opportunity to bridge a gap with sustainable initiatives that could transform the vision from being more than environmentally sensitive to becoming truly sustainable.
Teresa said she became committed to her cause and, like many people, she hopes to change the world and make a lasting impact. Sustainability is not the same as environmentalism, Teresa explained. It is a responsibility to leave the world in the same, if not better, condition than it was provided to us. Teresa quoted an old Iroquois law: “Make every decision for how it will affect generations that will come after us.”
We have talked about many different types of bucket lists in this column, and Teresa’s is quite unique. Her list is on “to be determined” status. She has travel hopes, but always with a purpose. Next up could be a trip to London for a sustainable brands conference. She would love to go on a world golf excursion, but will obviously be checking the courses for sustainable practices. She also plans to live each day with intention; it seems she can check that one off.