Featured Donor: Jim Gollin

For the duration of his tenure at RAN, both as a supporter and as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jim has overseen several successful campaigns and served as an invaluable fundraiser, contributing and raising millions of dollars in support of RAN’s work.

Board Chair & Donor

I have lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for fifteen years, but I was born and grew up in Rochester, NY. After graduating from Princeton with an AB in Politics and receiving a Masters from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in International Economics and Japanese Studies, I became the first American to receive a Masters in International Management from Kokusai Daigaku (International University of Japan). I also studied Political Economy in Paris and International Economics in Italy. I speak Japanese, Spanish, French, Italian and bits and pieces of other languages. I went on to work at a number of think tanks, investment banking firms and eventually co-founded an investment management company, Pacific Partners. Later I also helped found the Social Venture Network, a non-profit network of socially responsible business people. As Director of the Angelica Foundation, I travel regularly throughout the Southwest US and Latin America, funding environmental, pro-democracy and human rights groups throughout the region. Additionally, I serve in various capacities for a number of other social justice and environmental non-profit organizations. I enjoy photojournalism and writing and have had my work published in The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, EcoTraveler, Continental Profiles and elsewhere.

Why I choose to donate to and serve as Board Chair for RAN

I first learned of RAN through the Threshold Foundation, an early supporter of RAN. I met RAN’s infamous founder Randy “Hurricane” Hayes and was impressed with how he dressed up his solemn commitment to the forests with a mischievous grin and a penchant for fun. My direct work with RAN started over a dozen years ago as a consultant to the newly forming Mitsubishi Campaign, using my fluency in Japanese and knowledge of Japanese business culture to help the RAN campaigners frame their goals and choose their tactics. The strategy of exerting pressure on more market-oriented companies such as Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Electric in order to force the trading company Mitsubishi Corporation to cease its destruction of forests was only partly successful, but I learned a good deal about markets campaigns. I donated my consulting fees back to RAN, then donated more, then joined the board a dozen years ago, and became Chair of the Board nearly eight years ago. The dedication of time and effort has been significant, but like all great gifts it has come back to me, both through sharing in RAN’s achievements over the years and also through the strength of relationships developed with RAN staff, board, and supporters—a wonderful crew.

Confronted with the myriad problems faced by our civilization, we all have choices. We can dwell on their intractability and feel bad, face away from them and live with the feeling that we are hiding from something. Or we can take action. This orientation towards action, like leaning into an oncoming wave, allows me to wade deeply into seemingly insoluble problems without despairing. RAN’s strategic analyses of the human condition at the dawn of the new millennium, from its 500 year plan to the broad goals and vision of its campaigns to its day-to-day tactics, puts a smile on my face, providing hope.

RAN’s focus on rainforests addresses critical global issues important to me

Since my student days in the 1970s, with the publication of The Limits to Growth, I’ve been concerned with increasing per capita human pollution and use of resources which, combined with growth of human population, must at some point challenge the carrying capacity of the earth’s combined ecosystems. In big picture terms, I’m interested in developing sustainable economies that will maintain human life without degrading the biosphere. More specifically, I’m interested in rainforests as repositories of massive biodiversity, and also as a metaphor of complex interdependence, of fragile beauty. RAN’s long-term vision allows it to win enormous victories that serve to protect these amazingly beautiful places. RAN carefully wins a small victory, uses that momentum to push forward to a larger victory, and another, eventually creating a giant snowball rolling downhill, and then an avalanche.

RAN stands out above all the rest

Every social change group lies somewhere on the spectrum from radical absolutism that is ideologically pure but can get nothing done, to reformist instrumentalism that can get a lot of fundamentally unimportant things done. RAN occupies a sweet spot, as one of the most radical of the mainstream groups, or one of the most mainstream of the radical groups, depending on how you look at it. RAN is both critical of global capitalism and able to cut deals with Citibank and Goldman Sachs. I appreciate how RAN thinks through the goals and tactics of its campaigns quite thoroughly before launching them, plotting out a path to victory. RAN sticks tenaciously to the plan, while also adapting to opportunities and circumstances. It is a learning organization that manages to repeat and expand on its successes and analyze its failures, making lemonade from the inevitable lemons.