Ep. #8 | Marsha Willard on systems thinking

On this episode of Kindling Radio, I sit down with Marsha Willard – faculty at both Pinchot University and Presidio Graduate School. We talked about how systems thinking can help us better understand an increasingly complex and ambiguous world. How can we anticipate unintended consequences? How can we develop more strategic and effective solutions to our “wicked problems”? Hope you enjoy!

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About Marsha Willard

Marsha is co-founder and CEO of AXIS Performance Advisors, Inc. a Northwest based consulting firm specializing in helping organizations implement sustainable business practices. She has worked with organizations in both the public and private sector providing training, consulting,  facilitation and executive coaching services. Some of her clients include Monsanto, Bonneville Power Administration, Cascade Corporation, City of Portland, AAA of N. California, Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Wacker Siltronic, Conway Transportation, GreenBlue and the Zero Waste Alliance.

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Marsha is also adjunct faculty for several colleges and universities. She teaches classes in sustainability for the University of Oregon, Pinchot University and the Presidio Graduate School. In addition she is an associate of the Zero Waste Alliance and a coach and presenter for the Natural Step Network. Marsha is also founder and former Executive Director for the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.

Marsha holds a Ph.D. in Education Psychology and Technology from the University of Southern California.

Recent Publications

  • The Step-by-Step Guide to Sustainability Planning (2008) Earthscan
  • The Business Guide to Sustainability, with Darcy Hitchcock. (2006, 2009 Earthscan)
  • Sustainability Science and Engineering 2005. Martin A. Abraham (Editor) Elsevier B.V. All Chapter 13 – “Actively Engage Communities and Stakeholders in the Development of Engineering Solutions”, with Lauren Heine.
  • The Trust Imperative with Stephen Hacker. ASQ Quality Press (2001)
  • Sustainability Series™  with Darcy Hitchcock


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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Before Kindling, Peter was Senior Research Associate for the Pacific Institute's Corporate Sustainability Program and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, conducting research that supports companies' sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham with his partner Sara and cat Winnie.


Kindling is a catalog of humanity's evolution. By showing how humanity has grown consistently more conscious, capable, and connected through time, Kindling sparks possibility for a new, more sustainable, more just, more purposeful way of doing and being.


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