Gary Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, will deliver the commencement address at the Middlebury College graduation ceremony on May 24. Hirshberg will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Betty and David Jones, John and Bonnie McCardell, Frank Sesno and Clara Yu will also receive honorary degrees.
"Hirshberg is an inspiring example of someone who has been a creative and innovative force in today's socially conscious business world," said Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz. "He is a successful risktaker and living proof that one can not only survive but succeed in our capitalist system while also behaving honorably, ethically and with due concern for the larger society and the need to give back. It is important that our graduating students, and indeed all of us, have the opportunity to learn from examples such as his that it is possible to be successful in the for-profit sector without compromising one's core values."
For more than 25 years, Hirshberg has overseen the phenomenal success of Londonderry, N.H.-based Stonyfield Farm, from its infancy as a seven-cow organic farming school in 1983 to its current $320 million in annual sales. With a compounded annual growth rate of more than 24 percent for the last 18 years, Stonyfield has consistently produced high quality products using innovative marketing techniques that blend the company's social, environmental, and financial missions.
A New Hampshire native, Hirshberg was one of the first graduates of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. He serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards including Applegate Farms, the Dannon Company, Honest Tea, Peak Organic Brewing Company, Sambazon, Climate Counts and the Danone Communities Fund, and has received six honorary doctorates. He is the chairman and co-founder of O'Naturals, a natural fast food restaurant company, and the author of "Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World" (2008). He also served on the advisory panel for Newsweek magazine's Global Environmental Leadership Conference.