Fifth Estater

Professional Game-Changer

NBCU’s Colleton taps experience in sports, do-gooding to run Green Is Universal initiative 4/12/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Throughout her career, Beth Colleton,
VP of NBC Universal’s Green
Is Universal initiative, has made
it a personal goal to try to change
the world for the better. “I feel like
so much is going on in the world, you can’t
sit on the sidelines,” says Colleton, who has
spent time volunteering for the United Nations
in Ethiopia. “If you have some of the skills to
make a difference, you have got to use them
while you can.”

Beth ColletonA background in sports has helped Colleton
apply a team approach to motivating others to
get in the do-good game. A Notre Dame graduate,
she has always been a big sports fan, even
working the clock and taking
photos at Notre Dame games.
After graduation, she landed
a job at the National Football
League.

Initially working in public relations,
Colleton endeavored to
expand the league’s outreach in
the 30 communities in which it
has teams, and beyond. “There
was so much opportunity to really
build from the ground up a
corporate social responsibility
platform,” she says. “I was the
head do-gooder.”

At the local level, individual
teams and players stepped up,
and Colleton took a few cues from them. “I
found most of the inspiration from the players
themselves because they were committed,” she recalls.

As she moved up at the NFL, she kept adding
responsibilities, including government
and community affairs and the NFL
Charities. Colleton’s ability to drive awareness
across a wide swath of people and entities was
apparent during her run at the NFL, according to
Jim Steeg, who organized every Super Bowl for
the NFL from 1980 to 2004.

Steeg recalls that during the 2002 Super Bowl
in New Orleans, Colleton would travel the city
by bicycle, bypassing the cars—and the traffic that came with them. “A lot of it has to do
with the energy and enthusiasm that she has,”
Steeg says. “She had innovative ideas, and tried
to create and do things that hadn’t been done
before.”

Colleton brings that enthusiasm and passion
every day to NBCU’s green initiative, making
the company’s facilities more environmentally
friendly while also spreading awareness of environmental
issues to staff and the public. “The
portfolio is so massive,” says Colleton, who
works with NBCU’s more than two dozen business
units. “It is like being a kid in a candy shop
in a way, to activate all those entities to do some
good things.

She joined NBCU in 2008 after a short-lived
hiatus from corporate work. She decided to take
a break after 15 years with the NFL. But soon
after, one of her former NFL interns, who was
working at NBCU, recommended her for the
Green Is Universal position. Colleton jumped at
the opportunity.

“I always say I am a builder
and a fixer,” she says. “I never
walked into something that already
existed, and the fact that
this was in a nascent form, and
needed someone to build and
grow it, seemed right up my
alley.”

Since Colleton took her current
gig, Green Is Universal
has grown to include on-air
promotions touting green lifestyle
tips; facilities, set design
and studios doing their best
to “green their routines”; and
shows like 30 Rock incorporating
the theme into plot lines.

The initiative is planning a number of events
tied to Earth Day on April 22. NBC News programs
have green-themed documentaries on tap,
including the latest installment of the Future
Earth series; Bravo will present the 2010 edition
of Live Earth; and NBCU is sponsoring an
auction at Christie’s, “A Bid to Save the Earth,”
with funds going to charity.

Colleton says the staff at NBCU has proved
game for going green from the top down.
“We meet with our CFO every other
month to talk about how to get this into the DNA
of the company in a strategic way,” she says.
“Most people said, ‘I want to be involved.’”

It is a true group effort, Colleton explains,
with every department doing what it can to
make the company just a little bit more ecofriendly,
and informing viewers at the same
time. “There is a role on the team for everybody,”
she says. “Everyone just focuses on
what they can do best.”

BETH COLLETON

Title

VP, Green Is Universal, NBC Universal

Education
B.A., Notre Dame, 1991

Employment

National Football League: PR assistant,
1992-1993, public service
coordinator, 1994-1996, assistant
public service manager, 1997-1999,
community affairs manager, 2000-
2002, director of community affairs,
2003-2005, director of community
ventures and growth markets, 2005-
2007; Peter G. Peterson Foundation,
senior advisor, 2008; current position
since 2008

Personal

Volunteered with the U.N. in Ethiopia;
whitewater-rafted the Zambezi River;
one of eight siblings

 

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