The team at Ethical Systems learned with deep sadness that our executive director, Bryan Turner, died in a parachuting accident on Monday, March 9, 2015. He was 32 years old.

Bryan was a brilliant, devoted, and compassionate leader who dedicated much of his professional and personal life to social causes, especially to alleviating extreme poverty. He accepted the directorship in part because he believed that improving ethics in business could be a powerful channel to support sustainable development. As our first executive director, Bryan was responsible for creating the framework and strategic plan for the organization. His initiatives greatly expanded our vision, our content, our readership, and our partnerships.

Jeremy Willinger, our current director of communications, has agreed to serve as the interim executive director of 

We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.

Jonathan Haidt, Director

More information on Bryan’s remarkable life, and how his friends and family are honoring him:

To see just how extraordinary Bryan was, read this excerpt from a letter Bryan wrote to friends in 2013:

“If I die BASE jumping, please, and I cannot emphasize this enough, do everything you can to help end extreme poverty by 2030 and do your utmost to achieve sustainable development beyond that. Don’t waste time being upset about my dying; be upset about the seven million kids that die every year and don’t even get a chance to live. If you can, please use my death to advance sustainable development.” 

Sign a petition honoring Bryan’s legacy by advocating to end extreme poverty.


Bryan made short videos almost every day to send to his parents, sister, and life partner Katherine. The videos show a young man so full of joy, love of learning, and a sense of purpose that he could not wait to wake up each morning and get back to work. Bryan’s friend Dan Gingold assembled selections from those hundreds of videos into a 14 minute compilation. We post the video here not only because it shows who Bryan really was, but because it may be useful to many people, and in many academic courses. Anyone interested in (or teaching a course in) sustainable development might want to show the video to spread inspiration and hope for the cause. Anyone interested in (or teaching a course in) positive psychology could not find a finer example of the virtues of gratitude, love, zest, curiosity, love, love of learning, gratitude, and the appreciation of beauty and excellence. Bryan was also the most perfect illustration of Amy Wrzesniewski’s research on work as a “calling” (as opposed to a job, or a career). See especially from 6:10 to 8:30. And finally, if you are ever feeling down and want some inspiration, just watch this.



Additional Links

Report from CBC News Canadian Make Poverty History Campaign memorial post Obituary in the Globe & Mail