Our People

Nicole Silk

Global Director for Freshwater Outcomes

Boulder, CO

Headshot of Nicole Silk.

Nicole Silk Global Director for Freshwater Outcomes © Courtesy Nicole Silk

Areas of Expertise

Water security, Freshwater biodiversity, Rivers, Climate change, Water equity

Media Contact



Understanding how people relate to water and rivers, what these systems need to remain healthy, and how we can work together toward a more equitable, sustainable, and durable water future have been at the center of Nicole Silk’s career for thirty years. Motivated by curiosity and impact, driven toward collaborative and inclusive solutions, she is excited to return to The Nature Conservancy as the Global Director for Freshwater Outcomes.

As president and CEO of River Network since 2014, she guided the organization through a period of remarkable and exciting organizational change to add greater value to water protection across the United States, seeking to improve access to healthy rivers and clean water for all while growing organizational revenue and resolve to reach further. Efforts included expanding the network from 2,500 to over 8,500 entities, sharpening River Network's strategic direction and financial integrity, updating all internal systems and metrics, upgrading technology to support remote staff and distance learning, and integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion across all programs, priorities, and vision. None of this would have been possible without the talented team of courageous staff and board members at River Network, the partnership of donors, foundations, corporations, and government agencies, and trust-based relationship with leaders working at the local level from coast to coast.

Prior to joining the staff at River Network, Nicole worked at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for nearly two decades. She was part of the leadership of the original Freshwater Initiative and many subsequent global freshwater programs. Nicole led or contributed to numerous organizational knowledge development initiatives (Conservation Gateway, conservation planning methodologies, CONNECT, environmental flows, etc.) and fundraising campaigns, and she brought a determined focus and spark into each opportunity. Before TNC, Nicole worked on legal and policy aspects of private lands and wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Costa Rica and as a professional river guide, leading adventures around the world.

Nicole has written and contributed to several scholarly scientific and legal papers and books (including A Practitioner’s Guide to Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation) and numerous toolkits and web-based resources designed to facilitate knowledge transfer related to water. She has served on many boards and advisory committees related to urban and rural water security challenges, convened hundreds of conferences and learning events on freshwater topics, and pioneered new websites, social networks, national campaigns, and online communities to advance faster progress toward healthy rivers. She has a J.D. from the University of California, Davis, a B.A. in economics and ecology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and advanced training related to nonprofit leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Nicole is based in Boulder, Colorado. When she is not working, she spends as much time as possible outdoors, including longer adventures on rivers with family and friends. Away from technology and daily routines, these trips provide an unparalleled opportunity to remain connected with nature’s mysteries.

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