From Capitol Hill to Bayer, How Kasey Gillette Mobilizes Sustainability


Getting our sustainability agenda off paper and into action takes a dedicated team. The right experience, knowledge and tenacity are critical to transform our three-pronged access, climate, and equity vision into reality. We recently sat down with Kasey Gillette, Senior Director of Sustainability and Political Affairs, to learn more about her role and why she’s the right person for the job.

Can you elaborate on your current responsibilities and journey at Bayer so far?

I’ve been with Bayer for nearly 9 years. I’m currently the Senior Director of Sustainability and Political Affairs, but I helped generate sustainability initiatives across the organization before my current job title was even created. 

Matthias Berninger, EVP, Public Affairs, Science, Sustainability & HSE, and Mike Parrish, VP, Public Affairs, Science and Sustainability were the ones who pulled my position together. My background in legislation and sustainability really set me up for success as the three of us work to mobilize Bayer’s sustainability goals and agenda. Alongside them, I work to collaborate with stakeholders and manage political affairs to run better policy campaigns.

What drew you to environmental policy and sustainability work? How did that interest propel your career?

As a kid, I was a big sustainability nerd. In eighth grade, I joined a club called Earth Savers. It was the first time I had been exposed to the startling number of big problems facing our world. Growing up in Central Florida, birds were such a delicate part of our environment, so it was in my own community where I was introduced to the fragility of endangered species. Climate change and warming trends were impactful for me as well. It was something I didn’t need training in—I could just feel it happen around me. 

Because of that, I always fostered a dueling interest in wanting to work in either politics or environmentalism. It wasn’t until an internship I held in environmental, agricultural, and energy policy where those interests fused together in a fascinating way. I’m so grateful for that experience. I got very lucky with timing and inspiring mentors along the way. 

I worked in the US Senate for four different senators before joining Bayer. The most recent one was Harry Reid of Nevada, where I was especially focused on environmental policy and sustainable agriculture. That job was a huge steppingstone in my career. It enabled me to bridge my personal interests with my career in a way not everyone gets to experience.

How did your time on Capitol Hill set you up for success today?

Twenty years ago, I worked for Bob Graham, a Florida Senator. One of his legacy achievements was passing legislation to restore the Everglades. It was around this time that I was absorbing as much information from senior policy experts as possible and honing my skills rapidly. At 25 years old, I was sitting in rooms I had no business to be in, and I learned so much by being in the right place at the right time. 

Kasey Gillette Mobilizes Sustainability

I “retired” from the Hill after 15 years because I was recruited by a crop science consultant who worked for Bayer. It was my first experience fully dedicated to crop science and I was lucky enough to find myself in a very supportive workplace. It was here that I completely believed in the power of crop science. Today, I don’t see a climate resilient world without Bayer’s crop science innovations. It's a sector of our business that really fires me up.

What’s your biggest goal in your role right now?

I want to collate the massive amounts of work that we’re doing across all three divisions and package it up into a succinct and digestible story for policy makers. These are elected officials who understand certain components of life sciences, like gene editing and crop protection, but don’t connect to them sustainability. I want to develop a stronger advocacy plan to bridge that connection more clearly.

What’s one thing you want your colleagues to know about Bayer’s sustainability work?

Sustainability work is our business. It’s another way of telling the same story that we’ve been telling for decades. Sustainability is the vehicle we use to explain our mission of “Science for a Better Life” and vision of “Health for All, Hunger for None.” It’s everything that we’re already doing, but thinking about it through a different lens. Everything we do is rooted in sustainability. Our entire R&D pipeline is climate-related—pest, disease and growing season all circle back to environmental resilience. Bayer is a climate resilience company and a climate change company.

4 min read