As we celebrate Earth Day, it’s hard to think of a political movement that’s had more impact on the world than the environmental movement, with the possible exception of abolitionism. Earth Day has become an annual opportunity, observed around the world, to celebrate our natural environment. On the first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans, seemingly spontaneously, participated in demonstrations that served as a catalyst to propel the environmental movement into the mainstream of political life, not just in America, but around the world.

Of course, few things are truly spontaneous, and in the case of the first Earth Day, a handful of people played key roles in stimulating this unexpectedly huge outpouring of human concern. One of those was Page Society Hall of Fame member Marilyn Laurie.

In a commentary posted today on the Page website, and also on his own Envirocomm site, Page Society Distinguished Service Award winner E. Bruce Harrison recounts the remarkable story of how Marilyn’s sense of personal commitment to a cause helped launch not only Earth Day, but also her remarkable career as one of the most important leaders in corporate public relations.

No one is more qualified to tell this story than Bruce, a former Page Society executive director, who is known as one of the founders of environmental public relations.

As more and more companies seek to build not only corporate social responsibility programs, but also core business policies, around environmental objectives, it’s worth taking a moment to wonder where the world would be without pioneers like Marilyn and Bruce.