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Founder of Whole Foods to Visit Southwestern Nov. 29

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    John Mackey

John Mackey will visit two business classes and give a public lecture on corporate social responsibility

John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc., will visit Southwestern on Monday, Nov. 29, as part of the A. Frank Smith, Jr. Lecture program. Mackey will deliver a public lecture titled “Conscious Business and Conscious Capitalism: New Paradigms for the 21st Century” at 4 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater with a reception to follow.

Inspired by his work at a vegetarian co-op, Mackey opened his first health-food store, Safer Way Natural Foods, in his garage in 1978. Two years later, he and his girlfriend teamed up with two other young entrepreneurs to create Whole Foods Market, a 10,000 square-foot store on Lamar Boulevard in Austin. This store was one of the first supermarket-style natural foods stores in the country. 

By buying out smaller competitors, Mackey transformed Whole Foods into a national corporation that Forbes magazine called one of the “25 Best Companies to Work For” in 2005. The company now has more than 270 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

A self-described “libertarian entrepreneur,” Mackey has instituted such measures as executive pay caps and higher discount incentives for healthier employees. As an animal rights advocate, he has instituted higher standards for the treatment of animals and donates as much as $1 million per year to this cause. However, Mackey’s public opposition to President Obama’s healthcare reform and to “hysteria about global warming” have provoked criticism in recent years. Mackey resigned as chairman of the board in 2009 but remains the co-CEO and director of Whole Foods.

Prior to his public lecture, Mackey will visit with students in two business classes at Southwestern.