University News

Western New England University Announces 2022 Graduate Commencement Speaker

Published: May 04, 2022 | Categories: All News

Sheila Barcohana Hollender L'80

Graduate ceremony speaker - Sheila Barcohana Hollender

Western New England University (WNE) is pleased to announce that on Sunday, May 22, Sheila Barcohana Hollender, a leading authority on women's issues, environmental health, and sustainability, will provide the keynote address at the 2022 Graduate Commencement ceremony. The ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. in the Caprio Alumni Healthful Living Center on the University Campus.

Hollender will also be presented with the Western New England University President's Medallion by University President Dr. Robert E. Johnson. Established in 2002, the President's Medallion Award is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or in service to an important cause that has benefited society locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. The President's Medallion also recognizes men and women in a variety of fields who are role models worthy of emulation by all, particularly by our students at Western New England University.

To say Sheila Barcohana Hollender has forged an influential path in the women's environmental health movement would be an understatement. Following a career as a partner in a New York law firm, she cofounded Seventh Generation, which sells eco-friendly cleaning, paper, and personal care products, with her husband, Jeffrey Hollender. She worked as the Director of Giving for Seventh Generation, as well as serving as the company's Women's Environmental Health Advocate, and helped to innovate and launch its feminine care line of products. Unilever acquired Seventh Generation in 2016.

Along with her husband and daughter, Hollender also cofounded Hollender Sustainable Brands (originally Sustain Natural), a company that developed and marketed Sustain Condoms, the first U.S. brand of condoms certified to be fair-trade, free of chemicals of concern, and sustainably produced. Not only did Sustain integrate social and environmental sustainability into each aspect of the business, but the company also partnered with non-profit organizations to increase awareness of safe sex and women's reproductive health. Sustain donated 10% of its profits to women's healthcare organizations. The company was acquired by Grove Collaborative in 2019.

Hollender's focus on the empowerment of women and girls worldwide has led her to work with organizations that provide women and girls with feminine care products, as well as educate them on the use of condoms to limit their exposure to HIV and STDs and to allow them to make their own decisions related to family planning. She feels that these topics are the most basic tools of empowerment.

Sheila Barcohana Hollender serves on the board of the Stephen Petronio Dance Company. She previously served on the boards of the Breast Cancer Fund and Sustainable Health Enterprises, and the Board of Advisors of Healthy Child Healthy World.