Graham Givens, MBA '17

Degree program: Jenkins MBA, 2017
Hometown: Richmond, VA
Previous degree(s): University of Mary Washington, BS Environmental Science and Sociology, magna cum laude, 2013
Sustainability Interests: Local and Sustainable Food Systems/Supply Chain, Sustainable and renewable energy

Graham Givens

Why is sustainability important to you? Why do you think it should be important to other students?

For me, sustainability has always been an important part of who I am. From an early age I was taught that we have an obligation to protect the environment and conserve it for future generations to enjoy and thrive. Our generation has a real opportunity and obligation to continue the progress made by previous generations as we and our children will be the first to feel the full effects of climate change, one of the most daunting challenges and opportunities for humankind to date. This is why students, no matter their major or interest, should be a part of the solution to climate change by making sustainability a part of their life and work.

What first sparked your interest in sustainability? What made you realize that you wanted to incorporate sustainability into your education and future career?

My interest in sustainability comes from my love for the outdoors and what my family taught me growing up and exploring Virginia’s beautiful mountains and rivers. Throughout my childhood, my family would go to the Rappahannock River and much of my love and admiration for the environment comes from that place. I can remember one time as a child walking along the banks of the Rappahannock with my father while he explained the importance of preserving wetlands to protect the health of the river. From that experience and the many others throughout my childhood, I knew that I wanted to devote my education and career to environmental protection.   

What sustainability challenge would you most like to solve?

For me, climate change is the most challenging issue that we face today. It is complex and difficult to interpret but I believe each of us can do our part to mitigate its effects. Currently, I’m working to increase access to more local, sustainable food. I believe as we support more local, sustainable farms, we can reduce our impact on the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.

What is your dream career, and how would you like to make sustainability a part of your day-to-day work?

My dream career is to work in the distribution of local and/or sustainable food. Sustainability is a core component of this work as I would be supporting agriculture practices that protect our environment and provide farmers with a means to be financially sustainable.  

What leader(s) do you admire for their commitment to improving sustainability or championing positive change?

I admire the farmers and farm hands that I’ve met on sustainable farms over the years for their commitment to sustainability. In many cases, farmers were really our first environmentalists and have understood that protecting the environment was critical to their own survival and that of their customers.     

What’s your advice for fellow students who might be interested in sustainability, but don’t know where to start? (This could include books, talks to listen to, events / clubs to attend, etc.)

My advice to students interested in sustainability is to get involved in the many different clubs and events at our university. One of those is FoodCon 2016, which is a one day conference on November 11th focused on the business of sustainable food. There will be a full day of keynotes and panelists discussing topics ranging from food waste to food entrepreneurship. The conference will be a great opportunity for anyone interested in sustainability to learn about and network with people working to build a more sustainable food system. You can find out more about the conference and how to partner with us by visiting or by emailing me at

Business Sustainability Collaborative Library: