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Furman names Corporate Sustainability Fellows

||Michael (Mikee) Johnson

The Center for Corporate and Professional Development at Furman University recently recognized four executives as Corporate Sustainability Fellows (CSF). They are:

Bill Flanagan (Leader, EcoAssessment Center of Excellence, General Electric)

Mikee Johnson (CEO and President, Cox Industries)

Karen Schwartz (VP of Performance Management & Support Services Bon Secours St. Francis)

Duncan Seaman (Vice President for Operations, Americas Region, BMW Group)

“Corporate sustainability is being embraced across the country, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes business sense,” says Dr. Brad Bechtold, Executive Director of Continuing Education at Furman. “It lowers business costs, improves productivity and enhances reputation. Our postgraduate diploma in corporate sustainability provides the tools, techniques and strategic thinking that business leaders need in order to build a coherent sustainability strategy. Our 2016 Corporate Sustainability Fellows are recognized leaders in the field who are making a difference in their organizations and have contributed significantly to the success of our postgraduate diploma by sharing their knowledge and best practices.”

Corporate Sustainability Fellows are nominated by faculty of Furman’s Corporate and Professional Development, and are selected by the Executive Director of Continuing Education. Biographical information for the CSFs follows:

Bill Flanagan leads the EcoAssessment Center of Excellence for the General Electric Company. The Center was founded to assess the environmental impacts of products throughout their entire lifespan, from raw materials extraction through reuse, recycling, or disposal at the end of product life. The team works with the various GE businesses and the GE Ecomagination leadership team to support GE’s product and technology sustainability strategies, applying a variety of tools and approaches including environmental life cycle assessment, life cycle management, and eco-design/design for environment. In addition to his GE role, Flanagan serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA) which is the membership and advocacy organization for LCA professionals in North America.  Flanagan was awarded the “Lifetime Individual LCA Leadership Award” by the ACLCA in 2014 for his sustainability-related accomplishments within and outside of General Electric, including the publication of LCA studies in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, the Journal of Cleaner Production, BioProcess International, and BioPharm International.  He is also responsible for the development of GE’s internal life cycle toolkit, including screening LCA and qualitative life cycle management tools.

Michael (Mikee) Johnson, left, is pictured with Brad Bechtold, center, and David Shi, right.

Michael (Mikee) Johnson, left, is pictured with Brad Bechtold, center, and David Shi, right.

Mikee Johnson is CEO and President of Cox Industries, a family-owned business specializing in the manufacturing and global distribution of the pressure-treated wood business. With 16 plants and over 400 employees, Cox Industries provides pressure-treated wood products to the pro-build residential construction markets and the electric utility industry. In an industry where environmental conscientiousness is constantly assailed, the 60-year-old Cox Industries has led the global treated-wood market with a reputation that bespeaks quality and integrity and is one the top three producers in the United States and the world. As CEO, Johnson is responsible for the development and implementation of the business’ strategy. Johnson has led a large traditional organization to understand and begin to adapt sustainability as part of its business practices and culture. The organization has active processes designed to not just promote, but incorporate sustainable concepts into its manufacturing, product design-development and supply chain configuration.  Johnson has led this initiative not only at the Board level, but through the daily operating environment. The company has realized significant economic and social value from their initiatives to date. In 2014, Johnson was recognized by Ernst and Young as Entrepreneur of the Year for his successes in treated wood product life cycle management.

Karen Schwartz, left, Brad Bechtold, center, David Shi, right.

Karen Schwartz, left, Brad Bechtold, center, David Shi, right.

Karen Schwartz is Vice President of Performance Management and Support Services with Greenville’s Bon Secours St. Francis Health System, a faith based health system which is part of the Bon Secours Health System. Schwartz is responsible for providing senior leadership and operational and strategic direction for departments within Support Services and Performance Management. Additionally, Schwartz provides executive oversight for master facility planning, environment of care, ecological sustainability and clinical value analysis initiatives. She also chairs the corporate Energy Utilization Council and is the executive leader responsible for the creation of a “Green Revolving Fund” for the Bon Secours Health System – a sustainable fund to support 19 acute care facilities in their efforts to replace infrastructure to reduce operating expenses and improve environmental footprint. Under Schwartz’s leadership, Bon Secours St. Francis has been recognized for the following Ecological Sustainability awards:

  • Top 100 Greenest Hospitals
  • Practice Greenhealth’s Partner for Change with Distinction
  • Practice Greenhealth’s Making Medicine Mercury Free
  • Practice Greenhealth’s Environmental Leadership Circle
  • Energy Star’s First Energy Star Hospital in South Carolina
  • American Society for Healthcare Engineering: 20 percent reduction in energy utilization
Duncan Seaman, left, Brad Bechtold, center, David Shi, right.

Duncan Seaman, left, Brad Bechtold, center, David Shi, right.

Duncan Seaman is Vice President for Operations for the Americas Region for BMW Group.  He has operational responsibility for numerous BMW facilities in the Americas Region supporting sales and distribution networks and BMW’s manufacturing facilities in Spartanburg, Araquari, Brazil, plus BMW’s newest manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, which is scheduled for production in 2019.  During Seaman’s tenure at the Spartanburg Plant, he has been responsible for reducing energy consumption per vehicle by 66 percent, water consumption by 58 percent, and waste to landfill by 82 percent. With the exception of one regulated waste stream, all factory waste streams are recycled. Duncan has also been heavily involved in developing and implementing the Landfill Gas-to-Energy project at the Spartanburg plant, which supplies approximately half of the total energy requirements for the plant, and is currently ranked number six in the U.S. among “Top Green Power Producers” by the Environmental Protection Agency. The project reduces CO2 by over 92,000 tons of per year. Seaman also implemented a solar energy project at the BMW Visitor’s Center which makes it carbon neutral, and he also developed and implemented the largest Hydrogen Fuel Cell Material Handling Project in the world that uses approximately 800 kilograms/day of hydrogen and supports over 350 pieces of equipment. The project surpassed one million hydrogen re-fills in December 2015, and avoids the consumption of approximately eight million kilowatts of electricity annually.

CSFs serve as guest speakers in Furman’s Postgraduate Diploma Program in Corporate Sustainability, and in the Undergraduate Day and Undergraduate Evening Studies programs. The David E. Shi Center for Sustainability and various academic departments on campus including Earth and Environmental Sciences and Business Administration and Accounting hope to work with these CSFs to develop student internships and research opportunities around corporate sustainability.

“Our 2016 Corporate Sustainability Fellows are leading edge thought leaders who are in charge of defining and implementing sustainability initiatives for their organizations,” Bechtold says. “There are many sustainability type educational programs across the country, but none are as comprehensive and business focused as Furman’s program, which will be offered again in the spring of 2017.”

For more information or to register, please contact Dr. Brad Bechtold, Executive Director of Continuing Education at (864) 294-3136, or visit the website at

Last updated July 26, 2016
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