10 Questions for Jim Moriarty, Chief executive officer of Surfrider Foundation


Three events frame Jim Moriarty. The first is a series of annual, childhood trips to Rhode Island where he and his family spent the summer months enjoying an unspoiled coastal bay overlooking the Atlantic. The second took place one summer in the 1970s when he bought his first skateboard. Thus began a life-long love of board sports. The third event was being a core team member in a partnership venture between software giant, SAP, and chipmaker Intel. Helping architect the early days of e-commerce, this led to a 20-year obsession of building companies around notable and world-altering ideas.

Jim’s job as chief executive officer at Surfrider Foundation is the intersection of these three vectors; environmental awareness, action sports and innovative business approaches. His vision at Surfrider Foundation is clear; to create a global movement of coastal environmental awareness and action. The recently released Surfrider Foundation Strategic Plan calls for 150 coastal victories by 2010.

He lives with his wife, Andrea, and their two children in the best place on earth - Solana Beach. He is actively involved at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church, mentoring high school and college students.

What brought you to Solana Beach?

First time: software. Second time: lifestyle. We originally moved to Solana Beach from New York City. The move was connected to a job with a software company. Being a lifelong skateboarder and snowboarder, I also knew I’d take to surfing pretty easily. We moved away briefly to Chicago and Silicon Valley for tech jobs, but eventually made the decision to live exactly where we wanted to and that was Solana Beach. We’ve been here a sum total of 17 years.

What makes Solana Beach special to you?

The climate and the access to the coasts make Solana Beach special. I also love how Solana Beach is bordered to the north and south by lagoons, the west by the ocean and the east by Rancho. There is nowhere to develop. I enjoy the small town feel you get in communities that are protected from huge new development projects.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Solana Beach?

I would add beaches. In order to add beaches, I’d subtract sea walls. I do understand both sides of this issue; we’ve owned property on the bluff. In the end, those sea walls have taken away the beaches in Solana Beach. A magazine reporter once asked me where my favorite beach was in Solana Beach. I had to say George’s in Cardiff to honestly answer the question. At high tide, a person cannot walk Solana Beach beaches from one end to the other. That’s a shame.

Who or what inspires you?

People who work for ideas that are larger than themselves inspire me. Anyone, of any age, of any demographic group who gives selflessly to do this is a hero of mine. Volunteers are solid gold in my book.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jesus Christ: The One and Only

Bill Joy: Co-founder of Sun Microsystems

Tom Friedman: The New York Times reporter Piet Mondrian: Dutch painter from the late 1800s

Yvon Chouinard: Founder of Patagonia

Joe Strummer: Frontman for The Clash

Ronald Reagan: Last president with vision

Barack Obama: Next president with vision

What are you currently reading.

“Made to Stick,” the Heath brothers’ spin on sticky ideas. “Hot, Flat and Crowded,” Friedman’s new tome on the future.

What is your most prized possession?

I can’t say either of these are “possessions,” but what I value most in my life is my wife, Andrea, and my faith.

What do you do for fun?

Surf as much as humanly possible.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

More than anything else, being married for more than two decades is what I’m most proud of in my life.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Risk is your friend; broken bones heal.

Become an addict for learning.

World travel is the best educator.

Understand it’s not about you.

Seek balance.