Tugboat Institute® is dedicated to supporting Evergreen™ leaders, their teams, and their companies through recognition, a range of experiences, several publications and programs to bring forth inspiration, new ideas, proven best practices about business, family and life. To be clear, we do not profess to be experts, but instead we view our role as conveners and curators. We believe everything that needs to be known is within our Evergreen community and from Evergreen thought leaders. Our current offerings include:
Tugboat Institute Membership offers qualified Evergreen CEO and presidents, and nextgen leaders, a trusted, authentic network of peers, unique experiences to connect and learn, and access to our rich library of content
Evergreen Journal, the voice of the Evergreen movement, shares the stories and best practices of our members and Evergreen thought leaders, building awareness of Evergreen principles and best practices, and offering inspiration to leaders and teams. The Evergreen Journal is available to any interested learner.
Our Certified Evergreen program, provides Evergreen companies the opportunity for extensive, rigorous assessment with the intention of continual improvement and further maturation on the Evergreen 7Ps as well as public recognition that one’s company adheres to these highest standards. A firm’s leadership does not have to be a member of Tugboat Institute to be Certified Evergreen.
Gathering of Teams brings Evergreen leaders, their teams, and family members together to connect, share, and learn around Evergreen principles, best practices, and hard-earned personal wisdom. Gathering of Teams is open to select Evergreen leaders and thought leaders who are not current members of Tugboat Institute.
Please explore our website to learn more about Tugboat Institute!
In 2005, Dave Whorton had a transformative conversation with an entrepreneur and friend that would deeply challenge his beliefs about business and launch a movement.
Having founded four companies in Silicon Valley and spending his early career as an investor at two of the top venture capital and private equity firms in the world, Dave’s conversation with Stella & Dot founder Jessica Herrin awakened him to an alternative path to business success. Jessica’s approach to building a business was novel in the Silicon Valley landscape: She dreamt of building a private company to last her lifetime and beyond, growing at a paced rate over time, and fueled by a deep purpose and a commitment to her employees.
The conversation became an idea that took over seven years to germinate. In 2013, Dave had dozens of conversations with leaders around the country who were ambitious to build a meaningful company but eschewed the VC and PE path to exit by sale or IPO. Combining sound business principles, extraordinary purpose and a desire to bring their employees along in their success, and without an expectation of an exit, these leaders were building growing, private, profitable companies for a lifetime, or longer.
In 2013, Dave coined the term “Evergreen” leaders and “Evergreen” companies to describe the people and businesses leading this movement. After a small gathering in Sun Valley, Idaho in October of that year, with the help of Chris Alden, he created Tugboat Institute to convene Evergreen CEOs to help one another through inspiration, new ideas, best practices, support, and encouragement. (Read the full launch post here.)
We believe in the vital importance of humans coming together to create and grow enduring, private businesses that make a dent in the universe.
Our vision is two-fold. First, that Evergreen companies will go from being underappreciated to being broadly recognized for what they are—attractive employers, partners, suppliers, customers, and community members that aren’t going away because they are adaptable, well-run, share in their success, and are not for sale.
Second, that Tugboat Institute will be the unrivaled resource for Evergreen CEOs and their businesses, providing a value-aligned support network unlike any other and additional services that are highly valued by our members and the broader Evergreen community.
We have dedicated our careers to supporting great entrepreneurs, and we believe that supporting Evergreen leaders is our calling.
Dan serves in an advisory capacity to The Tugboat Group, including Tugboat Institute, Tugboat IP and Tugboat Ventures. More
Michelle manages financial reporting and payroll for Tugboat Institute and contributes to a variety of operational and programming projects, including Certified Evergreen. More
Paige supports the CEO in a wide range of administrative tasks and projects across member relations, research, gatherings, and business development. More
Laura assists in the planning, preparation, and execution of Tugboat Institute events and provides administrative support across membership, sales, and operations. More
Maria engages purpose-driven leaders in the Evergreen movement, recruits new members, builds community, and promotes programs and events to serve the Tugboat community. More
Jenn contributes to building the Tugboat Institute community and developing meaningful connections with current and prospective members. More
Annie manages the scheduling, coordination, and execution of Tugboat Institute Events, including Tugboat Institute Summit, Tugboat Institute Exemplar Visits, and the Tugboat Institute Gathering of Teams. More
Diana curates members’ and thought leaders’ wisdom and insight through print and online publications for Tugboat Institute, including Evergreen Journal and Evergreen Journal Quarterly. More
Dave founded Tugboat Institute in 2013 to connect, support, and inspire purpose-driven leaders of Evergreen businesses. Dav More
Fellows & Chairs
Dan serves in an advisory capacity to The Tugboat Group, including Tugboat Institute, Tugboat IP and Tugboat Ventures. From 2016 to 2021, Dan served as the CFO of The Tugboat Group and also led several key business and operational initiatives. Prior to joining Tugboat, Dan held multiple financial roles at Fortune100, public, and venture-backed companies in the U.S. and Europe, including Intel, Affymetrix, and NuGEN Technologies. Dan holds a BS in Math and Operations Research from University of California, Los Angeles.
Michelle manages financial reporting and payroll for Tugboat Institute and contributes to a variety of operational and programming projects, including Certified Evergreen. She appreciates the opportunity to see Evergreen 7Ps principles at work in member companies and learning how those principles impact Evergreen employees and communities. Prior to joining Tugboat, Michelle served in corporate accounting roles in various industries, including insurance, retail, and senior living services. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from York College of Pennsylvania.
Paige supports the CEO in a wide range of administrative tasks and projects across member relations, research, gatherings, and business development. Prior to joining Tugboat Institute, Paige spent seven years working for RVK, one of the top ten institutional investment consulting firms in the U.S., where her work included performance reporting, investment policy development, asset allocation/structure analyses, investment manager evaluation, transition/rebalancing of client portfolios, and client education presentations. Paige holds a BS in Business Administration from Washington State University.
Laura assists in the planning, preparation, and execution of Tugboat Institute events and provides administrative support across membership, sales, and operations. She appreciates the opportunity to interact with and support members at events and throughout the year and loves learning about the Evergreen companies that make up the Tugboat community. Prior to joining Tugboat, Laura spent several years in the event planning industry in San Francisco. She holds a BA in Communications from Boise State University.
Maria engages purpose-driven leaders in the Evergreen movement, recruits new members, builds community, and promotes programs and events to serve the Tugboat community. She loves connecting with the inspiring leaders who make up Tugboat membership and providing opportunities for the tribe to learn and share insights with one another for the benefit of their Evergreen businesses. Prior to joining Tugboat, Maria served for 10 years as Vice President at The Advisory Board Company, where she managed a sales and member relations team and engaged in marketing, business development, and sales management before serving her community for eight years as a Governing Board Member for the Menlo Park City School District. Maria holds a BA in History/American Studies from Princeton University.
Jenn contributes to building the Tugboat Institute community and developing meaningful connections with current and prospective members. She is committed to helping to create programs and events to serve inspiring Evergreen® leaders and to continuing to grow the Evergreen movement. Prior to joining Tugboat Institute, Jenn spent several years in sales and marketing roles. She holds a BA in History from Hillsdale College.
Annie manages the scheduling, coordination, and execution of Tugboat Institute Events, including Tugboat Institute Summit, Tugboat Institute Exemplar Visits, and the Tugboat Institute Gathering of Teams. Annie is inspired by the purpose-driven leadership, sharing of insights, and authentic connections she sees at each gathering and deeply enjoys serving Evergreen leaders and businesses. Prior to joining Tugboat Institute, Annie contributed to a variety of digital and print content platforms as a freelance writer and editorial consultant, with a focus on the outdoor industry, and also spent four years as a professional ski racer. She graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in Philosophy before completing the summer Bridge program at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business.
Diana curates members’ and thought leaders’ wisdom and insight through print and online publications for Tugboat Institute, including Evergreen Journal and Evergreen Journal Quarterly. Diana is inspired by the stories of Evergreen companies and leaders she is able to share across Tugboat Institute content platforms and values the opportunity to celebrate Evergreen businesses. Prior to joining Tugboat, Diana served in editorial and communication leadership roles in healthcare publishing and education organizations. Diana holds a degree in English from University of Montana.
Dave founded Tugboat Institute in 2013 to connect, support, and inspire purpose-driven leaders of Evergreen businesses. Dave is responsible for all aspects of Tugboat Institute including setting the long-term strategy for Tugboat Institute, recruiting Evergreen CEOs and Presidents to Tugboat Institute and the Evergreen movement, evolving and curating the experiences and programming, and evangelizing and celebrating the importance of Evergreen companies in the world. Dave considers Evergreen company leaders and their businesses to be capitalism at its best. Prior to founding Tugboat Institute, Dave founded Tugboat Ventures in 2006 and co-founded four companies, including drugstore.com and Good Technology. Dave holds a BS in Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Stanford GSB. Dave is happily married to Lisa, and has two children Briggs (21) and Rylee (19). He enjoys hiking, golfing, cycling, reading, movies and travel.