Alan Webber grew up in a working class home in Missouri, the son of a camera salesman. He was very fortunate to be part of a loving family, with parents who sacrificed a lot so their kids could have a better life. They were strong believers that education is the pathway to a brighter future, and his father — despite working extremely long hours to provide for his family — dedicated a lot of time to school, including volunteering as head of his children’s PTA.
Alan graduated from Amherst College, and later received an honorary doctorate from Boston Architectural College. Early on, Alan saw the powerful role that government can play in ensuring that each person has the same opportunity for a great education, a meaningful career, affordable health care and a high quality of life.
He was an administrative assistant to the Mayor of Portland, Oregon in the 1970’s, when that city created a strategy for sustainability and livability that people admire today. His work and personal lives came together when, on his first date with Frances, they went door-to-door campaigning for city-county consolidation. They’ve been married for 37 incredible years, and have two wonderful children, Adam and Amanda.
After Portland, Alan served as Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Transportation. Later, in Boston, he worked for Governor Michael Dukakis’ administration and became the managing editor/editorial director of the Harvard Business Review.
There, he interacted with leaders of all kinds — heads of large corporations and non-profit executives, entrepreneurs and global thought-leaders. He had long recognized the role of government in changing people’s lives; at HBR he became increasingly aware of how business influences individual lives — for better or worse.
After a 3-month fellowship in Japan, he saw how the world was changing. Global competition, digital technology, demographic changes, and generational shifts were remaking business and careers. With his friend and colleague Bill Taylor, he set out to launch a new magazine that would be the handbook of this new world of work, asking and answering: How can individuals make a difference? How can companies both do well and do good?
It was hard work, and potential investors were understandably skeptical, but they never gave up. Fast Company became the fastest growing business magazine in American history — because people across the country (and then around the world) were hungry for a publication that told them that they mattered, their work lives mattered, and that they could make a difference.
Ultimately, the investors behind Fast Company sold the magazine — enabling him and Frances to move to New Mexico to live the rest of their lives. This is their home, and they love it.
He has since written three books, given speeches on early childhood education, and worked with small businesses, social enterprises, and non-profits to help them grow. His commitment is to contribute to New Mexico and to leave this state in better shape, with more opportunities for more people, than when he moved here.