Distinguished Achievement Award Given to Director of Government Relations

Karen Gautreaux is The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Government Relations which is an apt title as her skill at navigating Louisiana’s political landscape (and coastscape) and establishing and maintaining relations with a wide variety partners and stakeholders inspires awe. Karen’s skill derives from her Louisiana roots and her affinity for the coast, and conviction that it is cared for in a manner that maintains its viability.

Prior to coming to The Nature Conservancy, Karen was a leader in state government and was instrumental in ensuring that environmental damages were addressed and notably active in the recovery and coastal resilience planning efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Her keen sense of the interplay among Louisiana’s myriad coastal interests made her insights in developing the current Master Plan of real value.

Karen’s efforts to get the RESTORE Act passed this last year have particular resonance for coastal Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. Ensuring that funds derived from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are largely applied to the restoration and recovery on the Louisiana’s coastline have been of paramount importance to Karen, and she spent the better part of the last year strategizing, traveling, working contacts, not getting adequate rest and using her prolific talent to put the issue in terms that could not be denied. Karen worked with many other state, federal and NGO partners who also had important roles in the passage of the RESTORE Act, and in some instances it was her galvanizing presence that brought these partners together on message and action.

Karen’s political savvy, professional acumen and aplomb, and determination are undeniable, and it is these traits that she employed in building champions for the RESTORE Act. She effectively reconciled political realities with restoration and conservation needs, and worked with myriad stakeholders to be influential in the Act’s passage. More coarsely put, Karen is awfully bright and good at what she does, and her TNC colleagues love her and benefit from her knowledge every day – and so does Louisiana’s coast.

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