Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will serve as interim CEO for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), effective September 3, 2019, the organization announced in a press release Tuesday. Prior to her role as interior secretary, Jewell served as president and CEO of REI from 2005 to 2013.
The TNC news came along with other changes to its board of directors and leadership, including the resignation of former CEO Mark Tercek.
Jewell, who currently sits on The Nature Conservancy board of directors, replaces Tercek, who announced June 7 that he would step down one week after asking then-president Brian McPeek to resign. This series of changes came days after POLITICO reported on findings from a probe by law firm McDermott Will & Emery. The report found that The Nature Conservancy was “a male-dominated culture where it [was] difficult for women to flourish.” It also determined that sexual harassment charges brought forward by TNC employees were not consistently followed up on.
To her new role, Jewell brings both public and private sector experience. “Sally is one of the world’s foremost leaders in conservation and brings tremendous experience from her distinguished career,” Board Chair Thomas Tierney said in the statement.
During her tenure with the Department of the Interior, from 2013 to 2017, Jewell used a science-based, collaborative approach to managing natural resources. Among other accomplishments, Jewell worked to promote outdoor access for underprivileged kids, implemented a bold agenda for sustainable water use in the West and strengthened relationships with indigenous communities.
At REI, Jewell took sales from $1 billion to nearly $2 billion, added 71 stores and expanded online business. Prior to leading the co-op, Jewell joined the REI board of directors in 1996, ascending to COO in 2000. In the early part of her career, Jewell worked as an engineer in the energy sector and spent 19 years in commercial banking.
“During her tenure at REI, Sally demonstrated her finance and business savvy, helping the co-op not only weather the Great Recession but grow steadily during extraordinary tumult in retail,” said Marc Berejka, director of community and government affairs. “She’s also much-loved for her compassion and deep commitment to a healthy outdoors. TNC will be well served.”
Founded in the United States in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has grown to more than 1 million members and 400 scientists who influence conservation in 72 countries across six continents. From safeguarding thousands of acres of culturally and ecologically significant land to advancing policy to solving major global challenges around water quality, sustainable agriculture and more, the organization’s actions have wide-reaching impacts.
“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,” Jewell said in a statement, “I am humbled and pleased to step forward to support this important organization.”
Editor's note: REI has given $61,300 to local chapters of The Nature Conservancy over the last 14 years.