I grew frustrated by congressional inaction on the issues, so I decided to start a business to harness the power of my community to make progress.”
Carrying on the knowledge of the many grocers in her family, Professor Vogel opened Glen’s Garden Market—now Dawson’s Market—in 2013. The store’s aim was clear: to prioritize sustainability in every aspect of its operation.
“Our mission permeated every choice from the energy we consumed to the water we used to our packaging and the bags we offered at checkout—all reusable, of course,” Vogel said. “We partnered with producers who treated their land, animals, ingredients, and workforce with respect. Glen’s Garden Market was an intentional climate change agent parading around as a very pretty grocery store.”
The business was established with clear sustainability goals, but Vogel and her associates opted for a subtle public approach. At the time, the climate legislation she had worked to pass had just been defeated in the Senate, so Vogel wanted to approach advertising for Glen’s Garden Market carefully. “Even though my business was conceived and meticulously engineered to make climate progress, we didn’t discuss our mission. Instead, we worked to win the trust and loyalty of our community through our quality and a differentiated experience that was positive, engaging, and delicious,” she explained. “Over time, we felt more comfortable being clear about our intentions.”
The change in public perception between then and now is tremendous, and Professor Vogel is optimistic about the shift. As consumers care more about the sustainability efforts of the places they spend their money, businesses have taken note and adjusted accordingly.
Nearly every business is making sustainability claims today, albeit of varying effectiveness and authenticity. Now folks affirmatively choose to support brands because of their overt climate commitments. We’re moving in the right direction!”
Local food services in DC, such as Founding Farmers and Windows Catering, prioritize responsible sourcing, waste reduction, and community engagement to ensure their mission goes beyond their walls. Companies of all sizes, ranging from hotels to sports arenas, have touted their Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications; in fact, Washington was named the world’s first LEED Platinum City in 2017. Meanwhile, climate-focused organizations such as the Chesapeake Climate Action Network have leveraged their proximity to the federal government and made strides in outreach and activism. Kogod students interested in getting involved with climate initiatives have many options, from volunteering to interning to supporting local businesses with values they care about.
Professor Vogel encourages students with sustainability interests to pursue experiences on campus and beyond to gain valuable lessons and experiences. “We have so many brilliant professors here teaching, researching, and making progress on sustainability issues—take their classes!” she advises. “You can intern for a climate champion on the Hill or with one of the environmentally focused federal agencies. There’s no one path, but our geographic location is a huge advantage students should be sure to use.” She also recommends keeping an ear out for speakers, events, and programs on and off campus that can pave the way for a further understanding of climate initiatives.
In her current roles, Vogel hopes to support future business professionals in ensuring that progress keeps moving in the right direction. This year, she teaches Social Purpose Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MGMT-360) and Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MGMT-382) to Kogod students interested in combining their social impact goals with their business endeavors. As AUCI’s new assistant director, Vogel will also support the center in launching events and resources to support future entrepreneurs across the university community. Professor Vogel brings her expertise in policy planning, litigation, and business to the university’s halls, where students can learn directly from her on how to pursue their endeavors while keeping their impact on the world in mind.
Most importantly, Professor Vogel wants Kogod students to remember that the push for meaningful environmental protection isn’t something they have to pursue alone.
Climate change can seem like a problem that’s too big and scary to solve, and that gives a lot of people anxiety. But you don’t have to solve the whole problem at once to make a difference. Every choice that moves us in the right direction counts!”
As she’s seen through her years of work in the field, looking out for our planet sometimes means working with the people around us to make the change in our backyard.