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Jeffrey Whitford

Vice President of Sustainability and Social Business Innovation, Life Science MilliporeSigma, A Business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Jeffrey Whitford once bought snake venom from a man in Louisiana. That’s just one of many experiences in which his innate curiosity has sparked ideas that translated into meaningful impacts over the past 15+ years at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates as MilliporeSigma in the U.S. and Canada, a €10 billion global science and technology company committed to enhancing the human experience through curiosity and sustainability. 

As Vice President of Sustainability & Social Business Innovation, he serves as a strategic partner to the Life Science Business to accelerate, embed, and amplify sustainability principles and impact across its business operations to drive new business models, margin expansion and cost savings. This is all with one goal in mind: reducing the business’ impact on the environment and enabling customers to make more sustainable choices.

By applying design thinking to sustainability, Whitford starts with sustainability at the outset of product ideation and carries it through the entire product lifecycle. Industry-disrupting firsts launched under his leadership include the award-winning DOZN™ tool for quantifying the ‘greenness’ of a chemical product, a unique Biopharma Recycling Program for single-use and disposable plastics, and a new line of award-winning bio-based alternative solvents (Cyrene™). 

STEM education is one of Whitford’s passions, and he’s championed a partnership with Beyond Benign to expand access to green chemistry in higher education and fuel the adoption of sustainable science in R&D. He also oversees the company’s largest corporate responsibility initiative, the SPARK™ volunteer program, in which employees around the world participate in charitable events designed to benefit their local communities.

Whitford’s remit also includes improving the sustainability of Life Science’s 60-plus manufacturing sites around the world; community relations and corporate philanthropy; and employee volunteerism and engagement. Notable achievements in these areas include a 12-year, off-site virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA) which covers 100% of its U.S. electricity consumption; award-winning volunteer programs to inspire more girls and BIPOC students to pursue a career in science through a mix of virtual, in-classroom, and mobile lab experiences; and a partnership with CNote to improve economic access and opportunity for women- and BIPOC-owned startups in communities where Life Science operates.

Ragan & PR Daily’s 2022 CSR/ESG Professional of the Year, Whitford was included in Fast Company’s 2020 list of the Most Creative People in Business; selected as PRNEWS CSR & Nonprofit Awards’ CSR Professional of the Year in 2020; and named to Assent Compliance’s Top 100 Corporate Social Responsibility Influence Leaders in 2019. 

Whitford earned his bachelor’s in journalism and strategic communications from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and his master’s in business administration at Washington University in St. Louis. He is a board member of MyGreenLab and has previously served on the board of the International Institute in St. Louis and the St. Louis chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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