Tree planting at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, NY
Bill Ulfelder Tree planting at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, NY © Jonathan Grassi

Our People

Bill Ulfelder

New York Executive Director

New York, NY


    New York


During Bill's nearly decade-long tenure as Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy in New York has worked to create a world where nature and people thrive together, in New York, across the country and around the world. By emphasizing climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience, the Conservancy in New York is helping lead with bold new strategies and delivering big impacts. With Bill's leadership, The Nature Conservancy in New York is raising unprecedented resources, investing in cutting-edge science, connecting with new audiences, and increasing awareness of key environmental issues. The Conservancy in New York team, guided by Bill, is deeply committed to developing a culture that is inclusive, diverse, and equitable for team members, trustees, and partners.

Successes across the state include: the completion of largest land deal in the Conservancy's history at the time - 161,000 acres in the Adirondacks; leadership on several coalitions that resulted in historic state and local funding - more than $6 billion to provide clean water and conserve key lands; the Conservancy's first-ever comprehensive urban conservation program, launched in New York City; New York's first carbon credit deal with the City of Albany to conserve forests and reduce carbon pollution; a partnership to restore New York City's Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge with nearly 25,000 trees planted and more than 600 volunteers engaged; a property donation by the Conservancy that kick-started the creation of the country's newest wildlife refuge - Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge; and the passing of the State's Community Risk Reduction and Resiliency Act, which the Conservancy helped shape.

Currently, The Nature Conservancy in New York is in the midst of an ambitious, multi-year fundraising campaign to raise $300 million for conservation impacts in New York and beyond - part of the Conservancy's global $4 billion Our World private philanthropy campaign. In 2016, New York launched an innovative awareness campaign, New York Depends on Us, designed to bring attention to key issues and elevate the organization's profile in one of the most influential markets in the country.

An expert in issues and policy related to people and nature, Bill frequently comments in English and Spanish-language news media. He has recently appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America, CNN, CNN Español, and NPR to name a few. Bill was profiled in Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America's Non-Profit Leaders (BookBaby, 2017).

Bill began his career at the Conservancy in 1995 as a Population and Environment Fellow in Peru and Ecuador. Bill later served as the Community Conservation Director for the Andes Region and then as the Peru Program Director for six years, helping negotiate a $10.5 million debt-for-nature swap that provides critical resources for protected areas. In 2003, Bill became the Northern Arizona Director, overseeing landscape-scale forest conservation efforts with the US Forest Service and balancing conservation and community interests. As the Eastern Colorado Director, Bill oversaw grasslands conservation of the Western High Plains and led numerous partnership efforts with both private and public partners. Prior to joining New York, Bill served as the Conservancy's Acting Central Caribbean Director, leading conservation efforts in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. As the New York Executive Director, he oversees all work in New York and the engagement of nearly 100,000 Conservancy members.

Bill received a B.S. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Morehead-Cain Scholar. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to work with the Panamanian Park Service. He later earned a dual M.S. in Forest Resource Management and Natural Resource Economics and Policy from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, where he received a distinguished alumnus award in 2012.

Bill loves living in New York City with his wife, Natalie, and their daughter, Bella; running in the city's parks; and exploring the city and the world.

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