Napier Medal

2012 Napier Medalist

Denis Hayes, Environmental Activist

Denis Hayes is President of the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to making the Pacific Northwest a global model of sustainability. He is recognized widely as one of the leading statesmen of the global environmental movement.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest instilled a lifelong love of nature in Denis. As a student at Stanford in the late 1960s, he was president of the student body and an activist against the Vietnam War. There, too, he formed a close bond with Davie and Joy Napier, and in June 1971 Davie officiated at the wedding of Denis and Gail Boyer.

After graduating from Stanford, Denis enrolled in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He left Harvard when he was chosen by Senator Gaylord Nelson to be the national coordinator of the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970. In the years since, Denis has maintained a close connection with Earth Day, overseeing its expansion to more than 180 nations. It draws together organizations and individuals pursuing a great variety of environmental agendas. Today, Earth Day is the world’s most widely observed secular holiday.

Over the last several decades, Denis has served in a number of positions, including head of the Solar Energy Research Institute, adjunct professor of engineering at Stanford, and litigator with a Silicon Valley law firm. He also has received the highest awards bestowed by the Sierra Club, the Humane Society of the United States, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Council of America, the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and the American Solar Energy Society.

Time Magazine has named him as “Hero of the Planet.” He has received the national Jefferson Awards Medal for Outstanding Public Service. He was a founding member of the National Advisory Board of Pilgrim Place’s Napier Initiative.

Denis has headed the Bullitt Foundation since 1992. He and his Bullitt colleagues apply the principles of ecology to the design of human ecosystems. The newly constructed headquarters is the world’s greenest office building.