45. Joel Solomon

Chairman, Renewal Funds

45-Age: 60 | 2011: #15A native of Tennessee, Joel Solomon learned about political organizing while working on Jimmy Carter’s U.S. presidential campaign in the 1970s. A serious health issue led to some soul-searching on Cortes Island, where in 1993 he met a young organic farmer named Gregor Robertson. Their views aligned, especially on the urgent need to address environmental issues, and they became fast friends.Solomon has supported Robertson, from his business ventures to the provincial legislature to the mayor’s office, ever since. His own work revolves around Renewal Funds—a venture capital firm that generates impressive returns by investing in businesses built on social and environmental innovation—and chairing the board of Hollyhock, the retreat and learning centre on Cortes. All of this dovetails nicely with Vancouver’s “Greenest City by 2020” vision, which Solomon robustly supports and, indeed, helped to create. Gregor Robertson’s career in public life is not likely to end at the mayor’s office. Wherever it leads, he’ll have the support of his most important sponsor, mentor, and friend.

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