Bradley University, Foster College of Business
A former tax accountant, Jerry Lee worked in real estate development for 30 years, including as president of W.W. Reynolds and founder of his own company, Lee Real Estate in Boulder, Colorado. But when Jerry Lee started running a block at a time to improve his health, he had no idea the exercise regimen would one day change his life—and the lives of many others.
In 1993, one of Lee’s tenants, a locally renowned custom orthotics provider, invited him to invest in the development of a new running shoe designed to encourage a more natural mid-foot strike. Fourteen years later, Newton Running sold its first shoe. A cofounder of Newton Running Company, Inc., Lee currently serves as its chief executive officer.
Newton is not just any company. As the company site states, “We’re a force for good. We are proud to be the first running shoe company to achieve B Corp status. This certification exemplifies our commitment to meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency based on assessment from the non-profit B Lab. … We’re socially conscious, eco-friendly, digital savvy, dogs-in-the-office runners who are committed to bringing you the best in Newton running education and products.”
Since its inception, Lee insisted Newton stand for something more than just an innovative running shoe. Over the years, Newton has supported research of prostate cancer, which Lee survived in 2006, as well as the IRONMAN Foundation. It has donated thousands of pairs of shoes to disadvantaged children, wounded veterans, and others in need. In 2012, Lee accepted the Glen and Mildred Robbins Leet Humanitarian Award from Trickle Up, a nonprofit committed to alleviating poverty, on Newton’s behalf.
Under Lee’s leadership, Newton Running has had a significant impact on community and social change through acts such as donating over 6,000 shoes to One World Running, diverting over 78 percent waste from their distribution center to recycling, and logging over 1,600 employee volunteer hours in 2014.
In February 2014, Lee was the guest speaker for the 2014 Bradley University Fit Fair. When asked about the most gratifying aspect of his involvement with Newton, his answer came easily and with a smile: “I experienced it just five minutes before my speech at the Fit Fair when two professors walked up and said I changed their lives. Our shoes made it possible for them to run again … to follow their passion again. That, and working with 65 people with as much passion for the product as I have.”
Inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame in 2009, Jerry Lee has a reputation for philanthropic work in that area, including serving more than a decade on the Boulder Urban Renewal Board.