Great Lakes

Our Conservation Leaders

Dave Hamilton

Senior Policy Director

“I have always been fascinated by water, and have spent my career ensuring it is conserved and properly managed,” said David Hamilton, the Senior Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy.

This passion for conserving and protecting our waters is what led Dave to the Conservancy. In his current role, he provides leadership for Great Lakes Project’s aquatic invasive species (AIS) strategy. Much of his focus is on coordinating policy work in the Great Lakes region to close major pathways of introduction and secondary spread of aquatic invasive species, and develop scientifically sound and ecologically protective aquatic invasive species policy.

For Dave, the opportunity to work on this project was a chance to help conserve one of the world’s major resources.

“I became interested in the Conservancy’s whole system approach to the Great Lakes, the greatest freshwater system in the world,” he explained.

“Working on the aquatic invasive species problem is an exciting challenge. It is a pleasure to work in an organization that is willing to take on complex, difficult problems, work collaboratively with all affected interests, and bring sound science into the policy debate.”

Dave’s entire professional career focuses on preserving and managing water resources in the Great Lakes region. He has a strong science background and 34 years of experience developing and implementing water policy, and managing water resource programs in the Michigan Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. He is one of the principal developers of Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool and responsible for implementing the assessment process. The Assessment Tool is designed to evaluate the likely impact of water withdrawals on stream fish populations.

The quality of work has led to several recognitions, including the Distinguished Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in Professional and Civic Endeavors from the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University, April 2009; and the Department of Environmental Quality Director’s 2008 Award for Program Improvement, recognizing leadership in developing and implementing the Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. The Water Withdrawal Assessment Process won three national awards: 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation, 2010 Innovative State Program from the Environmental Council of States, and the 2009 Innovations Award from the Council of State Governments.

Dave received his master’s in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with an emphasis in Hydrology and Water Resources. His bachelor’s degree in what is now known as biosystems engineering from Michigan State University, with special emphasis in soil conservation and water management.


Dave Hamilton

Senior Policy Director