The Women at Sappi Are Harnessing the Power of Trees

Sappi North America's trio of change-making women leaders strengthens its global impact
Oct 2, 2023 9:00 AM ET

While all of us at Sappi are working relentlessly to unlock the power of trees for a low-carbon economy, leading the charge is a trio of change-making women with a fierce determination to succeed.

For over 30 years, Beth Cormier has been unlocking the power of trees at Sappi, rising to Vice President of Research, Development and Sustainability in North America. She is the first woman to hold this position in Sappi’s nearly 170-year history. “I believe that the solutions to some of our thorniest problems are discoverable in nature,” Beth says. “And that by unlocking the power of trees, we can create a more sustainable every day—our purpose at Sappi— for people and the planet we all share.”

Beth has overseen all sorts of portfolios for Sappi, but none excite her more than this latest generation of circular products. “We’re showing what’s possible with our diversified portfolio of commercial printing papers, packaging paper—even moving wood-based fibers into spinning operations that go into textiles.”

When Beth and Tracy Wessels talk trees, sparks fly. With a Ph.D in organic chemistry, Tracy explains the science involved in unlocking the power of trees with clarity and contagious energy. As Group Head of Sustainability and Investor Relations, she defines and explains our global mission from her base in South Africa.

“Trees are truly nature’s gift to the world,” Tracy says. “They contain the three most abundant natural polymers on Earth: cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Sappi has become a global leader in unlocking these polymers to create a whole new generation of renewable, biobased products that can speed the transition from fossil-fuel-derived products.”

As Director of Sustainability in Europe and a Yale-trained forester, Sarah Price is the third powerful voice in the trio. Whether she is advising mill directors in Germany on their carbon targets or discussing forest policy with decision-makers in Brussels, Sarah’s message is consistent: responsible companies like Sappi are essential to grow, manage and expand the forests we need to fight climate change. For her, unlocking the power of trees must start in forests with responsible, sustainable practices. Ensuring Sappi delivers on this promise with relentless ambition is her focus.

These three women have been an instrumental part of building the Sappi we see today and will continue to play a role in shaping our future. As we strengthen our global impact, these are the leaders we’ll look to for support in meeting our goals.