Our People

Michelle Carr

State Director, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Headshot of Michelle Carr.

Michelle Carr Michelle Carr is the state director for The Nature Conservancy in Illinois. © Cristina Rutter

Area of Expertise

Urban conservation, fresh water, investment management

MEDIA CONTACT

Isabel Morales
Email:

Biography

Michelle Carr joined The Nature Conservancy in 2013 after 16 years as an advisor at Goldman Sachs. In keeping with TNC's global mission “to conserve the lands and water on which all life depends,” Michelle leads strategic efforts to advance critical conservation work in Illinois and throughout the region. Her civic and professional experience helps TNC bridge the gap between conservation and economic decisions to protect important places and change the way people and institutions use nature.

Today, The Nature Conservancy is advancing a path toward a resilient and sustainable future, one in which people and nature thrive together.

Key conservation efforts in Illinois include protecting and restoring prairie and other natural areas to help mitigate the effects of a changing climate, working with partners to advance clean energy policies, improving the quality of fresh water resources in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River basin, collaborating with local communities on urban conservation efforts and finding ways to engage more Illinoisans with nature and conservation work. Since 1957, TNC in Illinois has protected more than 80,000 acres of critical habitat, and its science-driven and partnership-based approach has fueled breakthroughs that support conservation work across the globe.

Through Michelle’s leadership, the chapter has successfully piloted innovative approaches to water quality improvements through the implementation of wetland restoration sites along the Illinois River, by working with agricultural partners to develop sustainable farming practices that reduce harmful runoff and protect soil health and controlling and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Prairie conservation is also central to TNC’s work in Illinois, where only one-tenth of one percent of these iconic landscapes remain. TNC scientists are executing a strategic plan that is restoring thousands of acres of Illinois land to this original natural habitat. In doing so, TNC is providing essential habitat for wildlife, helping mitigate the effects of climate change, and providing spaces where people can connect with nature. Additionally, Michelle’s team is working closely with local partners and communities to advance urban conservation in the City of Chicago, ensuring that nature-based solutions are taken into consideration as the population grows. All of these efforts are influencing conservation at a global scale.

Michelle graduated from St. Louis University with a B.A. in history and economics, Phi Beta Kappa and holds a MBA from Vanderbilt University. She currently serves on the executive council of Chicago Wilderness, the board of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern and the Cook County Land Bank board. Michelle is a consultant to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. Michelle formerly served on the board of Links Hall, chairing the finance committee; on the board of The National Museum for Health and Medicine Chicago as finance chair; and on President Obama’s National Finance Committee through his first and second elections. Michelle lives in Chicago with her husband Dane and three children. 

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Illinois’ Residents and Nature Win with Passage of Inflation Reduction Act

August 12, 2022

We are face-to-face with the climate crisis. Illinois is experiencing conditions that are already significantly warmer and wetter than at any time in the last 120 years. However, the momentum toward impactful and equitable climate action is gaining speed. With Congress’ recent approval of the Inflation Reduction Act, a $369 billion investment in clean energy and climate action, we have entered a new era of opportunity in tackling the climate crisis—a major win for people and nature.

Last year, Illinois took the stage as a national leader in state climate policy, passing the landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act puts Illinois on a path to 100% clean energy by 2050 while also providing historic funding for workforce and economic development. The Inflation Reduction Act will build upon this momentum, estimated to reduce national carbon emissions by approximately 40% by 2030. Especially when coupled together, these two pieces of legislation are critical in meeting 2030 emissions reductions goals and simultaneously growing Illinois’ economy.   

The Inflation Reduction Act contains multiple provisions, and some that we’re especially heartened by include: 

  • Direct investments to improve local air quality, lower energy costs and expand access to clean energy in communities that are most affected by climate change.

  • Incentives that give farmers, ranchers and land managers the support they need to implement sustainable practices, like cover crops and improved fertilizer management. It also provides support to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk.

  • Policies to clean up and repurpose degraded lands to expand clean energy while supporting economic growth and stewarding Illinois’ incredible nature. For example, enhanced tax credits in the bill could accelerate development of renewable energy on former mine lands and brownfields. 

  • Investments to support new and existing technologies that expand the availability of clean electricity, decrease air pollution, and promote the use of zero-emissions cars and trucks. These provisions will also help bolster the United States’ role in leading the production of advanced energy technologies and cleaner manufacturing practices.

State-specific analysis commissioned by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with BW Research indicates the Inflation Reduction Act is projected to invest $15.9 billion in Illinois. This will contribute to 21,000 jobs each year for the next ten years and generate over $343 million in annual state, local, and federal tax revenue. This will equate to a $2.4 billion value-add to Illinois’ economy.  

The passage of this milestone legislation is a landmark step forward to address the climate crisis and put our nation on the path to a brighter, more sustainable future. Thank you to our leaders in Congress who voted in support of protecting our environment and creating more resilient communities. 

Michelle Carr
Illinois Director

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