-Connie Eggert, the Conservancy's Director of Philanthropy in Arizona
What attracted you to the Conservancy’s work in Arizona?
My husband, son and I are avid conservationists—we‘ve fished, hiked and camped across the nation but we especially love the Southwest. After two seven-year fundraising campaigns in higher education, I was eager to work on a cause close to my heart with a new team of co-workers and board members with a history of success and lofty aspirations for the future.
What goals do you have for Nature Conservancy philanthropy in Arizona?
My main goal is to raise the support needed to protect the land and water we all depend upon—before it’s too late. With the generosity of 17,000 members and donors, the Conservancy has accomplished quite a lot.
Through the completion of our Nature Matters campaign, we’ve protected and restored 1.5 million acres of land and key water systems in Arizona, and instituted a strong model for economic and environmental stewardship. Still our lands and waters are being altered at a pace that outstrips current conservation efforts. We need to work at a larger scale and much faster pace to preserve Arizona’s lands and waters for future generations.
Tell us about yourself and your interests.
I grew up as the youngest of nine children in Illinois corn country and earned a journalism degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
I worked in corporate marketing for McDonnell Douglas and The Boatmen’s National Bank of St. Louis for 11 years and became a fundraiser 15 years ago. I worked for both the Rolla and Columbia campuses of the University of Missouri and most recently served as Vice Chancellor of Advancement in Rolla. There we rebranded the campus as Missouri University of Science and Technology and successfully completed a $200 million fundraising campaign.
I am an avid gardener, fisherman, cook, Cubs fan and soccer mom. I’ve been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband Bill who is a talented contractor, musician and photographer. Our eight-year old son Will is quite an athlete and outdoorsman.
Arizona has some amazing, iconic landscapes. Are they attractive attributes for a conservation fundraiser? What role did Arizona’s beauty play in your decision to move here?
Arizona’s, natural resources spring to my mind in living color. There is vibrant beauty across this state but also a profound fragility as it grapples with growth.
It seems to me that more can be accomplished in this environment than in most and that together with our partners—local communities, businesses, ranchers, universities, state agencies and Federal organizations—we can “Save the World!” (That’s how my son describes my new job.)
I hear you and your family are fly-fishers . . . any good fish stories you’d like to share?
Our favorites are of the lunkers our son Will has caught: a 5 ½-pound cutthroat on Yellowstone Lake when he was five years old and a 6-pound walleye on the White River in Arkansas when he was six, out-fishing both of us!
This past March on the Current River, after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon fired the starting pistol to open the fishing season, Will hooked a 6.9-pound rainbow trout on his first cast. He said “Go tell the Governor I caught a big fish!” The Governor graciously came over to congratulate Will and their photo appeared in the newspaper, on the Governor’s website and in the Missouri Conservationist magazine!
Connie Eggert is the new Director of Philanthropy for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona.February 23, 2011