Brian Sheth: Billionaire, Conservationist, Environmentalist and Philanthropist
Self-made billionaire, philanthropist, and conservationist are just a few adjectives that describe Brian Sheth. He is the son of an Indian father and an Irish Catholic mother. He grew up in the Boston area and earned an economics degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduation, he headed west to San Francisco and entered the financial world, where he found great success as the president of a private equity firm. In 2015, Forbes magazine named Sheth one of America’s richest entrepreneurs under the age of 40. In 2021, Forbes included him in a list of the richest people in the United States.
Brian N. Sheth and his childhood friend, Wes Sechrest, grew up exploring the forests of New England. While Sheth was earning his fortune, Sechrest became a noted biologist. Together, in 2008, they founded Global Wildlife Conservation, an environmental and conservation foundation based in Austin, Texas.
In addition, Sheth and his wife Adria are the founders of the Sheth Sangreal Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to support environmental and educational initiatives. The Sheth family has raised money and donated millions to GWC as well as to other deserving groups.
Re:wild formerly Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC)
Sheth grew up revering leaders like oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and conservationist Jane Goodall. This inspired him to co-found Re:wild, formerly Global Wildlife Conservation with Wes Sechrest. Re:wild’s mission is not to replace or compete with other conservation groups, but to complement them.
Re:wild focuses on protecting lesser-known endangered species. Sheth says that lesser-known species “are our early-warning signals for larger issues facing the ecosystem.”
One example of saving lesser-known endangered species is Re:wild’s efforts to save amphibians. Sheth notes that amphibians profoundly affect the environment but do not get the conservation attention in the same way that gorillas and elephants do. Sheth explains that, because of the “size and genetic makeup, [amphibians] are much more sensitive to climate change.”
Another example is Re:wild’s work with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand to save the owl parrot. The foundation also works with the Mexican government to provide a sanctuary for the world’s most endangered marine mammal, the Vaquita porpoise.
In 2016, in honor of Sheth’s commitment to conservation and his “steadfast support for the protection of the planet’s biodiversity,” a newly discovered species of lemur was named after him: the Madagascar Sheth’s lemur (Cheirogaleus shethi).
Since its founding in 2008, Re:wild has developed partners in 50 countries and has established “30 new protected areas home to more than 150 endangered species and a staggering 20,000 species overall.” Re:wild continues “to push the boundaries of cutting-edge science and technologies for conservation.”
Philanthropist Brian Sheth: The Sheth Sangreal Foundation
The Sheth Sangreal Foundation supports conservation and educational efforts. Its mission is “for our children, our planet and our well-being, to ensure no one stands alone while protecting life in a changing world.”
The Foundation uses a systematic approach to match up those in need with those who can help. Through its matching gift program, it donates millions of dollars a year to various organizations that have goals aligned with that of the Sheth Sangreal Foundation.
Sheth says that, “to date, we have saved 50,000 miles of forest, 83 species from extinction, and impacted over 120,000 children around the world.”
Some examples of the philanthropic work of the Sheth Sangreal Foundation are:
- A $32 million matching grant donation to Re:wild. Sechrest said that this donation made it possible for Re:wild to “bring imperiled species back from the brink of extinction, protect entire ecosystems and improve the health of the planet for all the life it sustains.”
- A $250,000 matching gift for the Dell Children’s Ball to honor the heroes in the healthcare environment and promote pediatric healthcare in Central Texas.
- A $250,000 matching gift for Central Texas’s Season for Caring project to provide Christmas gifts to those in need.
- A multi-million-dollar donation to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin designed to combat the child poverty rate in the city. The donation was used to build a new, world-class facility that has a STEM learning center “where kids can learn to code, a library, a computer lab, an art studio, a recording studio, a dance studio, a teen center, an indoor athletics facility, soccer and baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts.”
- A $3.5 million matching gift for work with Austin communities that were disproportionally disadvantaged by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Brian Sheth: Lessons From Jane Goodall
In September 2018, Sheth had the privilege of interviewing Jane Goodall on the stage at the School of International Service at American University. He has been inspired by her since he was a child.
Sheth noted the differences in the two: He is half her age, a first-generation American on his father’s side, and an investor with a career in finance. Goodall was born in England and spent her life as an activist and primatologist with a commitment to bringing hope to humanity.
Sheth expressed his surprise that the conservationist he had admired since his childhood would become his cherished friend. He said, “Jane’s unyielding drive to leave a positive mark on the work each and every day has had a profound impact on my life and philanthropy.”
Jane Goodall had this to say about Brian Sheth, “In all my years as a conservationist, I have never met a supremely successful businessman who devotes more time and is as passionate as Brian about saving our planet.”
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