Julie Ann Wrigley always has been interested conservation, and has always wanted to do her part to ensure that future generations would have the same quality of life that we enjoy. That was her intention when she went to law school in the early 1970s.
"I thought I would go into the corporate world and help corporations understand their responsibility for the environment," she says. "But in 1975, there was no such thing. Corporate responsibility for the environment developed years later."
Today, as a successful businesswoman and philanthropist, she has found a way to give back — or, more accurately, to invest in the future.
In 2004, Wrigley made a $15 million contribution to Arizona State University to establish the university's Global Institute of Sustainability. From that Institute grew the world's first School of Sustainability, which opened at ASU in January 2007.
In June 2007, she made an additional $10 million investment in ASU to recruit four of the world's leading sustainability scholar-researchers to fill four professorships focused on renewable energy systems, sustainable business practices, global environmental change and complex systems dynamics (which involves the conceptual modeling of human-environmental interactions).
Wrigley believes that a confluence of factors will cause her investments to pay huge dividends.
"Most of the world's population growth will be in urban, arid areas," she says. "Metropolitan Phoenix is in a desert, and is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. We have to figure out how to manage growth better — and it won't be through traditional means."
In ASU, Wrigley saw a young research university that was not locked into the silos of academic disciplines. ASU President Michael Crow, also a forward-thinking conservationist, was willing to make sustainability a university pursuit.
"Sustainability is an issue that is bigger than all of us," Wrigley says. "Therefore, it will take all of us to solve it. Here we can think outside the envelope, which is critical to people like me who want to invent the future. We don't want to be bound by tradition. At ASU, research is defined around the real needs of society. This is one of the rare places in the world where we can solve these problems and do it cohesively. We can create the ideas and provide the solutions on an ever-enlarging scale."
Wrigley serves as president and chief executive officer of Wrigley Investments, president of the Julie A. Wrigley Foundation, manager of Glen Nova Landholdings and managing member of Wrigley Ranches. She also is a member of the board of directors of the E.W. Scripps Co.
Before the death of her husband, William Wrigley, the president and CEO of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., the largest manufacturer of chewing gum in the world, she assisted her husband in a variety of endeavors, including managing the family trusts and traveling the world on Wrigley Co. business.
Among her philanthropic efforts, Wrigley is founder and co-chair with Rob Walton, chairman and CEO of Wal-Mart, of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability; a board member and chair emeritus of the Peregrine Fund Inc.; a member of the board of visitors for the Institute of International Studies at her alma mater, Stanford University; was co-chair of the capital campaign for Barrow Neurological Institute at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix; is a past member of the Nature Conservancy Board of Governors; and a state trustee for the Conservancy in Idaho and Nevada.
She is a member and co-founder with her late husband of the University of Southern Californa's Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. In addition to being president and CEO of the Julie Ann Wrigley Foundation (successor to the Wrigley Family Foundation), a private philanthropic foundation committed to sustainability and the environment, health care and education, she is a member of the Burns Family Foundation, which was founded by her grandfather and managed with her five sisters.
Wrigley graduated from Stanford, with a degree in anthropology, and the University of Denver's College of Law, where she earned a juris doctorate, summa cum laude.