Jerry Greenfield is a businessman and philanthropist known for being a co-founder of Ben & Jerry's along with his business partner Ben Cohen. Ben & Jerry's is an ice cream company known for its commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Greenfield, who grew up on Long Island in a Jewish family, studied pre-medicine at Oberlin College and graduated in 1973. However, he failed to get into medical school and ultimately changed his career path after a few years spent reapplying to med school and working as a lab technician.
Greenfield lived with Cohen in Saratoga Springs, New York during the summer of 1977. After initially considering opening a bagel shop, they chose to open an ice cream store due to the lower start-up cost. They took a five-dollar correspondence course in ice-cream making, which culminated in the opening of their first store in a former gas station in Burlington, Vermont, in the summer of 1978. Greenfield and Cohen had originally planned to start their business in a college town someplace warmer but discovered that the unsaturated ice cream market in Burlington afforded them unique opportunities.
Greenfield and Cohen ultimately sold Ben & Jerry's to Unilever in 2000 for $325 million, although the pair remain active in the business. Greenfield is presently the President of the Trustees for the Ben and Jerry Foundation. He also has a seat on the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities.
With his 1997 bestseller, "Ben & Jerry’s Double-Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too," which he co-authored with Cohen, Greenfield created both a nuts-and-bolts guidebook to the promise and pitfalls of “values-led” business and an inspiring wake-up call about the growing international influence of the “socially conscious” or “mission-driven” corporation.
Having created a model for American business success, Greenfield and Cohen have been recognized for fostering their company’s commitment to social responsibility by the Council on Economic Priorities (which awarded them the Corporate Giving Award in 1988 for donating 7.5 percent of their pre-tax profits to non-profit organizations through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation), and by the U.S. Small Business Administration (which named them U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year in 1988 in a White House ceremony hosted by President Reagan).
Both Greenfield and his business partner Cohen are avid Bernie Sanders fans, supporting him in both his 2016 and 2020 bids for the Democratic nomination for President.
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