Stories in Washington

Kyle McCoy

By Anya Blaney

Kyle McCoy running in the desert.
Kyle McCoy Kyle races in the Gobi March. © Kyle McCoy

Kyle McCoy, a trustee of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Washington, has traveled and lived all over the world, including serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan and running ultramarathons of up to 100 miles through Earth’s most remote deserts. For him, time spent outdoors is a path to mental and physical healing. “I’m big on recreation,” Kyle said. “It’s so important for people to get outside.”

Kyle credits his passion for land conservation to his long-distance foot-racing lifestyle. With dozens of races and several trophies under his belt, Kyle’s racing took him to the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon Series, a series of intense 250-kilometer, weeklong races in extreme locations such as the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia and Danco Island in Antarctica, where he saw firsthand that “wildlife was off the charts.”

“As I’m doing a two-kilometer loop around Danco Island over and over with my fellow runners, penguins were waddling up a slope and sliding down,” Kyle described. “And I looked out at the water and could see killer whales. It’s nearly impossible to describe the untouched beauty.”

Kyle McCoy stands in front of a lake in a snowy area.
Kyle McCoy The Last Desert race in Antarctica © Kyle McCoy

Kyle completed and earned the top spot in the challenging 4 Deserts Antarctica race. In addition to intense races, Kyle's achievements extend to years of military service. Before entering the private sector as a wealth manager, he earned a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship through service to the U.S. Army—as a son of two public school teachers, it was the clearest way to pursue an affordable college degree. Kyle graduated from Gonzaga University as an Army Lieutenant on May 11, 2001, just four months before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Kyle completed four tours in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2005.

About his time in the Army, Kyle says, “I have no regrets.” He continues, “You [had] people from differing socio-economic backgrounds, folks on the path to citizenship, from all walks of life, all parts of the country, and they’re all thrown together and they work hard. That had such a profound impact on my view of what can be done in a diverse organization.”

Kyle’s service and experiences created a passion for veterans’ issues, which he views as intimately tied to environmental issues. He explains, “Being outside in nature is one of the single best ways to alleviate struggles with reintegration or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” He recalled observing other veterans heal deep-seated wounds from witnessing or experiencing traumatic events by getting active outside.

After completing his last tour of service, Kyle returned to the U.S. from Afghanistan to pursue an MBA at Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management. He said, laughing, “I’ll never forget the professor in my first marketing class explaining how much time and energy consumer packaged goods companies spend to make sure toothpaste is at eye level on grocery store shelves and being struck by how unimportant it felt when I had been in a war zone days before.”

Kyle (left) runs in the Gobi March race as part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon series.
Gobi March Kyle (left) runs in the Gobi March race as part of the 4 Deserts Ultramarathon series. © Kyle McCoy

With this realization, Kyle spent two years trying to get out in nature as much as possible. He explored the Finger Lakes, hiked in the Catskills Mountains and eventually settled in Seattle, Washington.

He has since demonstrated his commitment to environmental conservation and community engagement, raising more than $85,000 for the Seattle Parks Foundation, an organization where he served on the board of trustees. Encouraged by his philanthropy’s impact, Kyle further dedicated his time and resources to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. Sharing a similar vision with the Seattle Parks Foundation, this organization safeguards and promotes natural spaces for recreation. In 2018, he joined the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Washington, embracing the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded individuals.

As a TNC in Washington trustee and self-described “finance guy,” Kyle was the board treasurer for six years before passing on the role in 2023. He advocates for environmental change for the brand by doing what he does best: helping the organization optimize its funds.

Kyle’s years of experience working with elite teams led him to a career in wealth management. Currently, he is a vice president and private wealth manager at Goldman Sachs. Kyle fuses his love for the environment and serving people by advising families, foundations and Tribal Governments on how and where to invest their assets. A typical day can consist of helping a young client invest in environmentally friendly funds or working with Tribal Nations to form endowments, fund college educations and finance better infrastructure. He sees firsthand that climate change is becoming a major concern for his clients.

“I find that younger clients are more aware of and passionate about climate change,” Kyle said. “They are focusing more and more of their resources on environmental causes—the ‘E’ in ESG investing, and that gives me hope.”

In addition to working with environmental nonprofits, Kyle was on the board of trustees of the United Service Organizations (USO), which provides services and support to military members and their families such as delivery of care packages, entertainment and a place to sleep and eat for free at airports.

Kyle believes that our best path to meaningful change is by bringing more people on board to issues we care about, especially as the science around climate change becomes impossible to ignore. However, this can take patience and commitment.

“To bring people who still aren’t believers on board, we can’t belittle or bash their viewpoint,” he said. “We have to set aside our biases to work together.” Getting people involved with outdoor sports is one of the best ways to bring people together to witness the paradox of nature’s power and the precarious balance that keeps it alive. For example, running races around the world showed Kyle the importance of preserving our natural commons, including the ones in our backyard.

“That’s where I really got passionate about The Nature Conservancy and what we can do,” he said. “Washington has some of the most beautiful places in the U.S. [...] The beauty of nature is something that everyone can enjoy and find value in, regardless of political views. We’re all in this together.”