A Kentuckian, Chris holds degrees in communication and anthropology from the University of Louisville, and a Climate Change and Health Certificate from the Yale School of Public Health, and has more than ten years of experience serving as project director and business developer for ecological consultants and NGO’s. His professional background has given Chris a demonstrated ability to work with private landowners, governmental agencies, policy makers, community-based organizations, volunteers, and academic partners on building and stewarding healthy natural systems. A certified Arborist, Chris also serves in leadership positions with local non-profit and community-based organizations. Chris has a passion for connecting conservation work to public health, and loves getting outside into nature with his wife, three children and two dogs.
nature.org: Have you always had an interest in conservation?
Chris Chandler: Yes. After many years spent outdoors visiting friends’ farms and lake cabins, that interest solidified at the age of thirteen when I had an opportunity to spend three weeks hiking the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and New Hampshire during a summer vacation. Since then I have continued to return to the Trail. In fact, I met my wife there. She was going south, and I, north!
nature.org: How did your career path lead to working with The Nature Conservancy?
Chris Chandler: In adulthood I realized that I had become an “armchair naturalist.” While I spent a great deal of time out in nature—hiking, biking, climbing, skiing—I couldn’t identify the flowers, plants and trees around me. I began seeking opportunities to gain that knowledge.
I was living in Northern Virginia and had been volunteering, doing “boots-on-the-ground” conservation work. I loved it so much that I eventually found employment with a land development company as a surveyor where I gained hands on experience in processes that informed land use decisions. Documenting areas that were about to be developed revealed to me the importance of land preservation and stewardship—especially in urban areas.
Upon moving back to Louisville, I sought out employment emphasizing a land preservation ethic. I found work that offered a unique opportunity to interact with private landowners, municipalities, government agencies and land trusts to study, restore and expand natural systems. I look forward to bringing skills gained in this role—eradicating invasive/exotic pests, planting thousands of trees, restoring wetlands and meadows—to TNC'’s program in my native city.
nature.org: What achievement are you most proud of so far in your career with TNC?
Chris Chandler: Looking back over the last four years, I am most proud of our co-production of Green Heart Louisville. When Kentucky first started our Urban Conservation journey, we intrinsically understood that healthy trees created healthy communities. But I could have never have imagined that Louisville would be leading the way globally in scientifically understanding how nature improves public health, such as cardiovascular disease, stress, diabetes and obesity. I am so proud to work for an organization that is willing to take thoughtful risks to drive our conservation science into the 21st Century.
nature.org: What are you most looking forward to in your work at TNC?
Chris Chandler: I am excited for so many possibilities. Our team is working hard on the science of health and nature, which could have broad significance, as there are a thousand or more other global cities grappling with promoting safe and health spaces. Additionally, and though we are in the early days of feasibility, the possibility to work towards restoring miles of an impacted urban stream and creating a new urban park in Louisville gets me out of bed!
A PLACE I LOVE: When Chris needs a nature fix, he takes his family to the Parklands of Floyds Fork. "The 4,000-acre urban oasis offers a chance for us to explore meadows in search of songbirds or wander among big beautiful centurion trees." Outside of the city limits, he likes to visit the Daniel Boone National Forest near the Red River Gorge.