Meet the Experts

Michelle Carr

State Director

Follow Michelle on Twitter: @mchlecarr

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

The Conservancy’s key conservation efforts in Illinois include improving the quality of fresh water resources in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River basin, protecting and restoring prairie, and collaborating with partners and local communities on urban conservation efforts. Since 1957, the Conservancy 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 controlling and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Prairie conservation is also central to the Conservancy’s work in Illinois, where only one-tenth of one percent of these iconic landscapes re¬main. Conservancy scientists are executing a strategic plan that is restoring thousands of acres of Illinois land to this original natural habitat. In doing so, the Conservancy is providing essential habi¬tat 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 board of Chicago Wilderness, the executive committee of Millennium Reserve, the board of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern 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 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.

Follow Michelle on Twitter



Time for Chicago and other global cities to re-commit to climate action

December 11, 2017

A recent series of events in the City supported the global mayors’ push to keep Paris Accord goals a priority.

Congress: Use disaster relief to stop megafires from burning our cherished lands and conservation budgets

November 20, 2017

Battling megafires across our country takes a toll here in Illinois, even if those fires don’t often hit close to home.

Speaking Up for Our Lands and Waters

October 24, 2017

Advocacy is one of the most important ways we can protect nature for future generations.

Lock Treatment System Needed to Stop Aquatic Invasive Species

September 11, 2017

Action must be taken to stop the two-way spread of aquatic invasive species through the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS).

Invest in Nature: A Bipartisan Solution for Congress

June 23, 2017

This month, more than 150 of The Nature Conservancy’s volunteer leaders—both Republicans and Democrats—traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress.

This Earth Day, I Stand for Science

April 21, 2017

The Nature Conservancy is participating in the March for Science.

Acting on Climate: A Path Forward for Our Economies and Our Communities

April 04, 2017

To secure America’s future in an increasingly competitive world, we must act to address climate change now.

Keeping Our Great Lakes Great: Advocating for Support of the GLRI Program

March 28, 2017

In 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was launched to accelerate efforts to protect and restore one of the world’s greatest freshwater treasures. We urge Congress to fully fund the program in the future.

Protecting Our Water Sources Brings a Wealth of Benefits

January 26, 2017

Across Illinois, millions get their drinking water from sources impacted by pollution.

Planting Healthy Air in Chicago—and Beyond

November 01, 2016

The Nature Conservancy, in coordination with C40 Cities Climate Leadership group, recently completed a new study that analyzes the role trees can play in both cleaning the air we breathe and cooling it down during the hot summer months.

Lucas Museum Offers Potential Benefits for Both Nature and People

June 13, 2016

The Lucas Museum could offer a wide range of benefits for nature and people.

Diversity Matters: Promoting Collaboration and Inclusivity in Conservation

April 26, 2016

Dr. Mamie Parker recently met with Nature Conservancy board members and staff  as part of the Illinois Chapter’s ongoing efforts to promote collaboration and diversity in the field of conservation.

More Prescribed Fire Needed To Keep Habitats Healthy

March 17, 2016

A new report reveals the state of prescribed fire in Illinois.

New Transportation Bill More Nature-Friendly

December 22, 2015

The America’s Surface Transportation Act  (FAST) Act not only enables transportation improvements, but contains new measures to help strengthen communities and protect valuable lands and waters at the same time.

New report card shows needs for improvement in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

October 22, 2015

A report card from America’s Watershed Initiative gave the Upper Mississippi River Basin a "C."

Advocacy Day 2015: Shaping Nature’s Future

October 09, 2015

On October 6, Conservancy trustees and staff members from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Conservancy’s Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill.

One Small Program, One Big Investment in Lands, Waters and Communities

September 15, 2015

While the clock is ticking on the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Congress has a chance to save it.

The Flood of 2013: Looking Back to Move Forward

April 27, 2015

What did we learn about wetland restoration from the flood of 2013?

Growing Cleaner Water in the Great Lakes

March 23, 2015

The United Nation’s World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, provides an opportunity to think about how we protect fresh water in the Great Lakes.

New Legislation Provides Another Tool in Fight against Invasive Species in the Great Lakes

January 20, 2015

A law recently passed in Michigan will help stop new invasions.

2014 By The Numbers

December 31, 2014

What we achieved for conservation in 2014 holds tremendous promise for the coming year.

Using Nature to Protect Fresh Water in Chicago (And Beyond)

November 24, 2014

Recently, more than 400 Conservancy staff, CEOs, policymakers and thought leaders gathered right here in Chicago to talk about one of the most important commodities of the future: Water.

In Honor of Earth Month: 5 Things You Should Know About Nature

April 22, 2014

Earth Day and Earth Month are all about raising awareness. Here are 5 things you should know about nature.

Celebrating World Water Day Every Day

March 21, 2014

World Water Day is March 22. But we need to celebrate and protect water resources like the Great Lakes every day.

Native Gardening: Good for You, Good for Nature

March 14, 2014

Adding native flowers and plants to your garden is a great way to attract songbirds, clean our water, and even yourself some time and money.

Conserving Lands and Waters in Illinois Through the Farm Bill

February 04, 2014

We commend Congress for passing a Farm Bill that's one of the strongest ever for conservation.

Responding to GLMRIS: What's Next?

January 15, 2014

The Army Corps of Engineers recently released the Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS), which responds to the economic and environmental threats posed by aquatic invasive species in these regions. Learn more about this report and what needs to happen next. 

Another Threat To the Great Lakes

December 05, 2013

DNA from Eurasian ruffe, an aquatic invasive species, was recently found in southern Lake Michigan. This poses a threat to the Great Lakes and the Missisippi River basin.

Aquatic Invasive Species: A CAWS for Concern

November 20, 2013

Learn about how aquatic invasive species are threatening Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes region.


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