Portrait of a Graduate
Gillian Christie ’69
An SPSG Graduate is...A leader with global perspective who serves others and contributes to the betterment of her society.
“Be kind to your classmates, teachers, and staff. Ask questions. Stay curious. Stay true to your goals. Trust yourself and your ability to learn, apply, build, create, and change the world.”
By age five Gillian Christie ’69 had big dreams and aspired to make the world a better place. During her years at St. Paul’s School for Girls, she witnessed the Cuban missile crisis, the assassination of the president, John Kennedy, his brother, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., the race riots in downtown Baltimore, and the Vietnam War. These experiences and her education equipped her with the knowledge, tools, and passion to want to change the world for the better, and helped to establish values, ethical conduct, and love to accomplish this vision.
Once a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Gillian highlighted positive scientific and technological advances that were overlooked by mainstream media before realizing that her voice alone could not influence the change she wanted to see. As a result, she founded Christie & Co in 1992 with a commitment to change the world through the power of communication.
Gillian started her company on the foundation of corporate social responsibility because she knew there was a void in ethical marketing technology that focused on advancing the goals of responsible companies. For more than 20 years, Gillian has been a pioneer in the field of helping ethical companies grow. “A leader is someone who is willing to stand up and make a difference,” she says. “Being a pioneer is even more challenging.”
To this day, Christie & Co creates and implements innovative branding, public relations, marketing, and advertising campaigns that increase and broaden market share for ethical companies worldwide. By developing solutions for the challenges her clients face, Gillian works to ensure her clients have the resources to achieve their own solutions, allowing them to increase their success through disruptive opportunities, partnerships, and demand and awareness for their products. She was greatly influence by her father, Peter Christie, whose Bauhaus architecture firm’s creative and innovative designs brought people and nature together in harmony and whose buildings can be seen throughout Baltimore.
Upon starting her company, Gillian disliked the implementation of disrespectful practices she saw that were often used by other corporations. She sought to change the industry by developing Christie & Co’s Organic Marketing Technology™, a way to bring powerful impact to brands with efficiency and efficacy. As Gillian explains, “Organic Marketing gets better results using fewer resources and is based on respect and precision of messaging.” Her strategy has proven successful for hundreds of ethical companies and is echoed through her business’ philosophy: Making Peace Profitable™.
Christie & Co is Making Peace Profitable around the globe, from helping farmers in Ghana export their baobab and farmers in South Africa have increased export opportunities for their rooibos, to developing demand for the alternative sweetener Stevia, and supporting organic growers in Paraguay and Dominican Republic. Through the Christie CommUnity Foundation, Gillian is currently helping a Sherpa in Nepal own his own business by providing him with a business education, climbing gear, and funds to support his village in Nepal.
To advance her company’s social mission, Gillian and her daughter Alissa Sears pioneered Christie & Co’s Global Betterment Sector, the establishment of the Christie & Co’s Entrepreneurial Development Wing, and most recently, the Christie CommUnity Foundation. Through these global activities, her company continues to expand its social, environmental, and philosophical impact through innovative, solution-oriented programs that address critical sustainability, health, education, and human rights issues. In addition, Gillian is launching AdVenture Academy, a program that will allow entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors to come together to build stronger and more resilient leaders and companies in challenging environments such as Cotapaxi, Ecuador.
Christie & Co’s global leadership provided St. Paul’s School for Girls the opportunity to support the Sri Lanka Foundation after the tsunami hit in 2004. Alissa, who once taught orphans in the country, partnered with the Sri Lanka Foundation as they helped rebuild the country and promote its natural and cultural beauty. “We were involved with direct volunteering both before and after the tsunami, and St. Paul’s School for Girls generously supported our efforts by providing a donation which directly impacted the rebuilding efforts,” said Gillian.
Though her company has received many awards for their innovative endeavors, Gillian humbly confesses that serving others is selfish work. “You gain so much more through the experience than what you give,” she said. “The morals and values I gained through my education at St Paul’s School for Girls, and the example set by my father, formed the foundation for my success and my dedication to making the world better. My SPSG experience shaped my ability to run a business based on intellect, curiosity, writing, and communications skills.”
While at SPSG, Gillian was a multi-sport varsity athlete and participated in many clubs as well as the student government association. She was the all-school White Team captain and still basks in the White Team’s 1969 victory! Gillian fondly recalls the loving and caring community of teachers, students, and staff being a highlight of her time as a student. “SPSG provided a safe environment for me to discover my identity and focus on my passions,” she said. “The relationships I formed became a loving, extended family.”
Gillian added, “I would encourage students to be thankful for having a family who supports the importance of an excellent education. Be kind to your classmates, teachers, and staff. Ask questions. Stay curious. Stay true to your goals. Trust yourself and your ability to learn, apply, build, create, and change the world.”