Going Green: Irish America Honors Environmental Executives



The Man Who Climbed the Mountain
Casey Sheahan, President and CEO,
Lost Arrow Corporation and Patagonia, Inc.

Lost Arrow is the holding company for the highly successful Patagonia brand of outdoor equipment and clothing. The company operates a small number of freestanding Patagonia stores in the U.S. and abroad, and sells its line through roughly 1,200 dealers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. A design leader in several areas, pioneering specialized synthetic fabrics as well as bold, bright colors widely imitated by other outdoor apparel manufacturers, the company is dedicated to environmental preservation. As a member of “1% for the Planet,” Patagonia pledges to donate at least one percent of its annual sales to promote conservation and preservation of the natural environment.

Casey Sheahan serves as president and CEO of Patagonia, Inc. and Lost Arrow Corporation. Casey, a long-time industry veteran, came to Patagonia from his post as president of Kelty, Inc. Prior to his tenure at Kelty, he served as vice president of marketing for Merrell Footwear and was category marketing manager at Nike ACG.  In addition to his diverse management background, Casey brings a breadth of skills in the fields of writing, marketing and sales. He has edited for several outdoor-inspired publications including Powder Magazine and Runner’s World. He is aligned with a number of environmental organizations and served as president of the Conservation Alliance. Born in Santa Barbara, Casey is a lifelong skier and fly-fishing enthusiast. He earned a BA in American studies from Stanford University. He has a personal affinity for cycling, paddling and all water-related activities, as well as backpacking, sleeping in the dirt and spending time with his family: his wife Tara and children Caelin and Aidan. A third-generation Irish American with roots in Shannon, County Clare and Cork, Casey says, “The wonderful heritage of Irish music, history and literature connects me to my past and inspires me to laugh and cry!”

The Eco-friendly Abbot
Rev. Abbot Brendan Freeman, Founder, Trappist Caskets

 Located in a richly forested area near Dubuque Iowa, New Melleray Abbey, a Trappist monastery, managed to support itself through farming until the agricultural market collapse of the 1990s. Abbot Brendan Freeman launched a new venture in 1999 that would offset the shortfall in income. Taking advantage of a change in the law which allowed consumers to provide their own funeral merchandise, Abbot Brendan founded Trappist Caskets. By utilizing the Abbey’s massive timber resources and available monk labor force, the new company adopted the Irish tradition of wooden caskets. From its inception, the business has experienced brisk growth due to the vision, acumen, and oversight of Abbot Brendan.

 Trappists are committed to responsible stewardship, and their methods are aimed at preserving the world as God made it. Towards this end, the New Melleray monks use wood of local origin, much of it from their own award-winning 1,200-acre forest, which is managed to be a sustainable ecosystem. A tree is planted in the forest in honor of each individual buried in a Trappist casket. In addition to its casket business, New Melleray continues its 150-year tradition of farming, particularly chemical-free crops and raising organic Black Angus beef.

 Rev. Abbot Brendan Freeman received an MA in religious studies and divinity from Catholic University of America. He is an Irish citizen whose father’s family hails from Ballyhanus and his mother’s from Kiltimagh, both in County Mayo. He is the president of the Board of Directors of Cistercian Publications and has been elected abbot for six consecutive terms at New Melleray Abbey, which was founded in 1849 at the time of the great famine by the Irish monastery Mount Melleray of County Waterford in Ireland.