Sunset over Roanoke Sound at the end of the 1.5 mile out-and-back Roanoke Trail on the western edge of the Nags Head Woods Preserve.
Sunset over Roanoke Sound Sunset over Roanoke Sound at the end of the 1.5 mile out-and-back Roanoke Trail on the western edge of the Nags Head Woods Preserve. © Ben Herndon/


The Nature Conservancy Announces Board and Leadership Appointments

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Appointed Interim CEO Effective Sept. 3

  • Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Appointed Interim CEO Effective Sept 3
  • Thomas Tierney, Frances Ulmer and Sally Jewell to Serve on Board Subcommittee to Oversee Management of the Organization Until Jewell Assumes Interim CEO Position
  • Mark Tercek to Serve as Advisor to Board Subcommittee
  • Ulmer to Serve as Next Board Chair Effective Nov 1
  • Board Appoints Committee to Lead Search for New CEO
TNC Global Board Member and Former U.S. Secretary of Interior
Sally Jewell TNC Global Board Member and Former U.S. Secretary of Interior © Courtesy of Sally Jewell

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Nature Conservancy today announced numerous Board of Director and leadership appointments that will ensure continued progress at the organization while the Board conducts a search for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Board has named former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, former CEO of REI and current Nature Conservancy director Sally Jewell as Interim CEO, effective September 3, 2019. Until Jewell assumes this role full time, she will serve on a Board Subcommittee, along with Board Chair Thomas Tierney and director Frances Ulmer, that will oversee management of the organization. Mark Tercek will serve as an advisor to this Subcommittee, as needed.  The Board also announced that Ulmer has been unanimously chosen as the next Chair of the Board, effective Nov 1, 2019, following the expiration of Tierney’s term.

The Board has also appointed a six-person CEO Search Committee that will lead its efforts to identify a permanent CEO: Co-Chairs Teresa Beck and Joseph Gleberman, Shona Brown, William Frist, Thomas Tierney, and Frances Ulmer. The Committee intends to retain a leading executive search firm to assist in this effort.

“These are all important appointments that will ensure our entire organization has the support it needs while we conduct a CEO search, continue our work to create a more open and equitable culture, and advance our mission,” said Tierney. “We are deeply committed to listening and engaging the organization throughout the search process and are fortunate to have so many passionate and experienced directors who are deeply engaged in the organization and willing to step up at this critical time. Sally is one of the world’s foremost leaders in conservation and brings tremendous experience from her distinguished career in the public and private sectors. Fran brings deep science, research and policy expertise through her time in a multitude of elected and appointed roles in state and federal government, including as current Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. They have both been invaluable members of our Board, and we appreciate their willingness to lead as we continue to tackle the planet’s greatest challenges together.”

Jewell said, “Since its inception 68 years ago, TNC has been a leading organization centered around its mission of conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. I am humbled and pleased to step forward to support this important organization through its transition, following 11 years of dedicated leadership by Mark Tercek as CEO.  The Nature Conservancy is unique in its global reach, effective through its vast network of local chapters, dedicated trustees and on-the-ground relationships, and creative in its engagement with the business and global finance communities.   Our strength has always been in our people, and we recognize this comes with great responsibility to provide this team a supportive, open and inclusive work environment so everyone can thrive.”

“I appreciate the Board’s support and the opportunity to serve as Chair” said Ulmer. “The Nature Conservancy‘s purpose and people have been part of my life for a long time and I am committed to doing all I can to advance our mission. Tom has been an effective Chair who has made a lasting contribution to the organization for which we are grateful. I’ll do my best to assure Board engagement with TNC staff, volunteers, supporters and partners to focus our efforts on our goal: protecting the lands and waters on which all life depends.

Tierney continued, “We appreciate Mark’s contributions to TNC over the past 11 years and respect his recent decision to step down. Mark led us through an extraordinary time, aligning the organization around a sharper set of priorities and significantly growing our budget, reach, and ability to address climate change. He led the organization into important new areas, including a new global cities initiative. And he championed the use of innovative finance to bring vast new resources to the environmental movement and TNC’s mission. We will welcome his counsel as an advisor as we transition to new leadership.”

Sally Jewell

Sally Jewell was U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 2013 to 2017. During her tenure, Jewell was recognized for using a science-based, landscape-level, collaborative approach to natural resources management. Her work included championing the importance of science and sharing data to better understand the earth’s systems, encouraging investments for more sustainable use of water in the West, deepening relationships with indigenous communities and long-term conservation of the nation’s most vulnerable and irreplaceable natural, cultural and historic treasures. She demonstrated a commitment to connecting people to nature, particularly youth, with efforts to encourage tens of millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work on public lands.

Jewell was previously president and CEO of REI, a $2.6 billion retailer dedicated to facilitating outdoor adventures. Earlier in her career, she served for 19 years in commercial banking across a wide range of industries and began her career as an engineer in the energy sector. She has been active in governance and board leadership for corporations and nonprofit organizations, including serving as a Regent of the University of Washington where she is currently a Distinguished Fellow in the College of the Environment.

Frances Ulmer

Fran Ulmer is the Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission (USARC), appointed by President Obama in 2011. She is currently a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center.  In 2014, Secretary Kerry asked Ms. Ulmer to serve as Special Advisor on Arctic Science and Policy. In June 2010, President Obama appointed her to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. From 2007 to 2011, Ms. Ulmer served as Chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska’s largest public university. Before that, she was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at UAA. She is a member of the Global Board of the Nature Conservancy and National Parks Conservation Association, where she previously served as chair. Ms. Ulmer served as an elected official for 18 years as the mayor of Juneau, a state representative and as Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. She previously worked as legal counsel to the Alaska Legislature, legislative assistant to Governor Jay Hammond and Director of Policy Development for the state. In addition, she was the first Chair of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council and served for more than 10 years on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. She has served on numerous local, state and federal advisory committees and boards. Ulmer earned a J.D. cum laude from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and has been a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.