Patagonia’s CEO Stepped Down This Week
Rose Marcario was one of the most vocal and progressive leaders in the outdoor industry
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After 12 years at Patagonia and seven as its CEO and president, Rose Marcario announced on Wednesday afternoon that she will resign from her role at the company, effective Friday.
Doug Freeman, who has been Patagonia’s chief operating officer for 13 years, will act in her place until a replacement is found.
“We have been planning my succession since late last year and believe now is the right time for the next-generation team to step in to reimagine the business for a bright future,” Marcario said in a statement. “Patagonia is in great hands, and on a path for 100 years of success.”
Marcario’s swift departure comes amid the global COVID-19 pandemic and calls on social media for the 47-year-old company to do more as a brand in regards to diversity, equality, and inclusion.
“Circumstances around the pandemic created a natural inflection point for reimagining our business, and Rose and the board felt it made sense for those who would be carrying that work forward to step in now and lead the process of reimagining the company,” a Patagonia spokesperson said.
During her tenure, Marcario influenced big changes in the outdoor world and beyond. The company quadrupled its sales in that period and gave more to grassroots organizations than at any time in its history.
“We are losing a great leader who helped grow our business and strengthened our advocacy efforts,” said Corley Kenna, director of global communications and public relations for Patagonia. “But Rose put us on a great course for the future, and the years she spent empowering and supporting us will help us as we navigate the future and live up to our mission of protecting the planet.”
Under Marcario’s leadership, Patagonia made national headlines by pressuring the Outdoor Retailer show to move from Salt Lake City, where conservative environmental policies were harming public lands, to Denver. Relatedly, the company was instrumental in the designation of Bears Ears National Monument and the legal fight that is still underway after President Trump shrunk the size of the protected area. It also helped lend its weight to win a long-standing battle to protect an area of British Columbia’s Purcell Mountains sacred to the Ktunaxa First Nations people from the development of a ski area.
In 2013, Patagonia started Tin Shed Ventures, its venture-capital fund, to “invest in environmentally and socially responsible start-up companies.” That effort helped establish Patagonia Provisions, the food offshoot of the brand, as well as its Worn Wear program, which repairs and resells Patagonia’s used products online and in pop-up shops.
Personally, Marcario founded Time to Vote, a bipartisan group of companies dedicated to increasing participation in elections that has grown to over 500 members. She also took the top slot last month on Fast Company’s Queer 50 list.
“Rose has grown our advocacy efforts in ways I could never have imagined,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a release. “With Rose at the helm, we are leading an overdue revolution in agriculture, challenging this administration’s evil environmental rollbacks, growing a movement to increase voter participation in our elections, and raising the bar on building our product in the most responsible manner possible.”