Bryony Schwan is a creative, courageous change maker. A serial social impact entrepreneur, galvanizing speaker, networker, photographer and an opportunistic white water river guide, she has more than two decades of experience creating and running successful organizations and projects. With uncanny cultural foresight, she brings a track record of anticipating social leverage points, proven startup leadership skills and dogged determination.
Bryony’s work has taken her around the world from speaking on chemical policy in Europe to lobbying at the United Nations Treaty Negotiations on Eliminating Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in South Africa. She has received several awards for her work including Montana’s Jeannette Rankin Peacemaker of the Year Award (2002). She has successfully founded six prescient organizations and mission-driven businesses that strive to create a more just and sustainable world:
Swan Consulting, LLC
Founder and CEO (2017 – present)
Bryony is the founder and CEO of Swan Consulting. Swan Consulting provides its clients with cutting edge organizational development, coaching and strategy development.
Founder and CEO (2014 – 2017)
Her most recent start up, Kindkudos, leverages online tools and insights from positive psychology to deepen the social connection between people and decrease the human drive to over-consume. Kindkudos addresses an enormous unmet need because social connection is fundamental to human happiness and effectiveness, yet the US ranks only 17 out of 156 countries in the World Happiness Report.
Co-founder and Executive Director (2006 to 2013)
Working with visionary and author Janine Benyus, Bryony co-founded The Biomimicry Institute to empower people to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet. While at the Institute she created a global biomimicry network establishing biomimicry organizations and projects in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin and South America and across the US. She and her team partnered with universities around the world to establish biomimicry degree programs and courses including the development of the Biomimicry Center at Arizona State University. She turned the seed vision for www.AskNature.org, the first and only online database of nature’s design solutions, into reality by developing the team, concept and securing the financial resources. Working with musicians Amy Martin and Allison Miller, she helped produce the award-winning children’s music album “Ask the Planet.” In 2010, in collaboration with Benyus, Dayna Baumeister and Chris Allen, she was a founding partner of Biomimicry 3.8, a global innovation consultancy and Montana’s first established B Corporation.
Prior to her work with biomimicry, Bryony worked for 11 years as the Executive Director and then as the National Campaigns Director for Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) a non-profit environmental justice organization that she founded in 1995. In the early years of WVE, Bryony co-created GUTS, one of the first outdoor leadership programs for girls. In 2000, she was recruited to build a national grassroots groundswell in the three months prior to the release of “Trade Secrets,” a documentary by Bill Moyer’s exposing the deadly effects of vinyl chloride on workers. Despite an expected attack by the chemical industry, the campaign led to one of the largest outpourings of public support for a PBS documentary with 126 public viewing events on launch night. In 2001, she co-founded and coordinated Coming Clean, a national alliance of health and environmental groups working to reform chemical policy. From their work in Coming Clean, Bryony and three colleagues co-founded the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that generated massive media coverage and engaged thousands of consumers to change their purchases, pressuring the cosmetics industry to increase disclosures and stop using many toxic chemicals.
Background & education
Bryony was born in Zimbabwe and moved to the United States in 1981. She has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Natal in South Africa and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana where she now serves as an affiliate faculty member. Bryony is a certified Integral Coach™. She is a potter, a gardener, and a passionate and published photographer. In her spare time she likes to hike in wild places and looks for any opportunity to river guide. She has run many of the challenging rivers of the western US, including the Grand Canyon.
Leadership & boards
With 20 years in startup leadership roles, Bryony is a risk taker with expert skills in team building and organizational management. She completed the yearlong Advanced Training for social benefit sector leadership with the Rockwood Leadership Institute in 2005.
She is especially good at recruiting and supporting latent talent, and helping creative self-starters excel and thrive. She’s been running businesses like nonprofits and nonprofits like businesses since 1991. Bryony has raised more than $10 million for four non-profit organizations and two business startups.
As a board member for a dozen organizations, Bryony has cultivated catalytic collaboration. She generated groundbreaking coordination between labor and environmental communities for the Alliance for Sustainable Jobs & the Environment. She has served on board of the Social Justice Fund Northwest, and Gross National Happiness and currently serves on the board of Greenpeace USA.
As co-producer of a feminist radio show, In Other Words, for ten years, Bryony conducted monthly interviews with national and international leaders such as Helen Caldicott. As Affliate Faculty at the University of Montana, she has taught multiple semester-long courses on topics such as community organizing, women’s leadership, and social change. Bryony’s work has taken her around the world speaking to audiences of over 1,000 people. Invited presentations have included: Shell Powering Progess Together (Netherlands 2012); Sustainability and Technology conference in (Shanghai 2013).
For a more comprehensive list of speaking engagements please contact her directly.