The Land Institute marks with sadness the passing of Vivian Donnelley, who died on October 4, 2018. Our hearts go out to the Donnelley and Hilst families and to everyone else Vivian’s remarkable life touched. A member of The Land Institute’s board of directors since 2009, Vivian contributed extraordinary grace and clarity of vision to our work to perennialize agriculture and to transform humanity’s broader relationship with the ecosphere. She had an integrative vision for the ecological and cultural dimensions of sustainability and a knack at communicating the full breadth of that vision to others. Vivian also had a pragmatic and compassionate perspective on management and governance, and just two years before her death helped guide our organization through its first ever executive leadership transition as a member of the presidential search committee. Her late husband Strachan Donnelley preceded her on our board of directors and played a prominent role in the intellectual life of the organization. But as we reflect on Vivian’s life and board service, the distinctive and indelible mark she personally made here is apparent.
Vivian Donnelley was born in Hutchinson, Kansas and attended college at Valparaiso University in Indiana before settling in New York City with her husband Strachan. She was a leader in sustainability and education, serving as an admissions officer and trustee for The Dalton School in New York City, board chair for Green Chimneys Children’s Services in Brewster, NY, a board member for The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation in Chicago, and a trustee for The American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Vivian was also a board member for the Center for Humans and Nature in Chicago, an organization founded by Strachan Donnelley that is an important collaborator for The Land Institute today. Vivian leaves daughters Inanna, Naomi, Aidan, Ceara, and Tegan who, along with their spouses and children, are especially in our thoughts. Above all, we are filled with gratitude for the extraordinary life of Vivian Donnelley.
To read the full obituary, please visit The New York Times.