Environmental Leader Kathryn Hoffman Champions Employee Welfare

Environmental Leader Kathryn Hoffman Advocates for Employee Welfare

To achieve work-life balance and care for those around you, you must also care for your workplace, believes Kathryn Hoffman. As an environmental advocate, she introduced a 32-hour work week for her colleagues.

My journey to becoming a CEO is unconventional. I have the diplomas and have put in long hours early in my career, but I chose to step away from the demanding life of a law firm to find a path that allows time for family, hiking, and paddling.

I’m a lawyer, CEO, and leader, but also a mom and environmentalist who believes success and a fulfilling life go together.

At the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA), the non-profit I lead, we use law and science to protect Minnesota’s environment and health. Our mission goes beyond lawsuits and policy papers; it’s about ensuring a healthy future for current and future generations of Minnesotans. This requires dedication, expertise, and a leadership style that promotes both.

Environmental Advocate Kathryn Hoffman

For me, leadership means clarity and equity.

Clarity involves setting clear goals that everyone can support. At a non-profit where everyone shares the mission, this unified purpose boosts our efforts. We all understand our goals and know that each contribution matters.

Equity means creating a workplace where employees are valued individuals, not just parts of a machine. Many non-profits try to maximize impact by minimizing pay, leading to burnout and limiting talent to those with financial privilege. This approach isn’t sustainable or effective.

My approach is different. Supporting our employees directly supports MCEA’s mission. We benchmark our salaries against similar-sized nonprofits nationwide. While we can’t offer corporate salaries, we remain competitive within our sector. Along with generous benefits, this helps us attract and retain diverse talent.

Kathryn Hoffman - CEO at MCEA

A truly equitable workplace also allows space for life outside of work. That’s why MCEA is implementing a 32-hour workweek. Research shows this leads to happier employees, increased productivity, and no loss in work quality. MCEA has been recognized as one of the best nonprofits to work for in the country.

This change has been personally transformative. The extra day off allows me to volunteer with an organization supporting immigrant women, enriching my life and reinforcing the value of collective effort.

I’m proud of the workplace we’re building at MCEA. It proves you can pursue significant, world-changing goals while also prioritizing the well-being of your team. A healthy planet starts with healthy, fulfilled people who can tackle challenges effectively.