At the time of the original Earth Day in April 1970, Center Co-Founders Jeanne and Dick Roy were packing to return to Oregon following Dick’s graduation from law school that spring. Inspired by Earth Day (1970), they both became deeply involved in the emergent Oregon environmental movement. Until 1993, Jeanne was a full-time environmental activist and Dick was involved part-time outside his law practice.
In 1993, Dick resigned from his law firm, Stoel Rives, to join Jeanne as a full-time volunteer for Earth. As a vehicle for their working partnership they co-founded the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI), nationally recognized for pioneering work in creating a series of self-facilitated discussion courses. From 1993 until early 2006, Jeanne served as Education Director and Dick served as Executive Director at NWEI.
In 1997, the Roys founded the Oregon Natural Step Network as a project of NWEI, Jeanne served as its chair until 2002 when it was spun off into a free-standing nonprofit. As the national sustainability movement took shape, the Network was described as the most vital metropolitan network of decision-makers focused on sustainability in the United States.
In 2006, to assure that NWEI would continue with paid staff, the Roys transitioned out and created the Center for Earth Leadership. With public awareness heightened about climate change and ecological degradation generally, the Center develops strategies and programs designed to build a sustainable culture from the ground up through the intentional efforts of motivated citizens.