Roger Milliken’s deep and abiding connection with the natural world began when he was an infant. His first few years on the coast of Maine were filled with upheaval, but “what was dependable was the sound of the waves and the feel of the fog and the shadows from the trees,” he says. “And so there’s a way I feel more deeply rooted in the natural community than I do in the human community in some foundational, fundamental way.”
It makes sense, then, as he inherited his family forestry business, he was deeply tuned into the reality of the natural world—and how misaligned the investor mindset is with that reality.
Intimately familiar with this central tension of the economic system in which we operate, he articulates the importance of Corporate Accountability’s work this way: “Holding corporations accountable is like an acupuncture needle focused into the key meridian of what’s wrong—whether it has to do with prioritizing profits over health, or the role corporations and capitalism more generally in driving climate change.”
When Miliken first learned about Corporate Accountability’s climate campaign, though, he was skeptical. “I remember leaning forward and asking [Executive Director] Patti [Lynn], ‘You are taking on the basis of our civilization. What makes you think that you can have any success?’ And I’ve never forgotten this: she referred to her time in South Africa and the framed quote from Nelson Mandela on the wall of her office: It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
In the end, the organization’s boldness is one of the things that Miliken values most. “Corporate Accountability is taking on huge and what feels like insurmountable challenges. And I don’t think you can do that without an outsized sense of what is possible and what’s worth asking for.”
Watch a short excerpt from our conversation with Roger, where he talks about how the spirit of joy, connection, and boldness of Corporate Accountability makes him want to be part of the work.