After college, and after three years with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, I found myself at The Nature Conservancy. I started as an intern in 1970 and was appointed president a few years later. I was 29 years old, and it was frightening! But it was an exciting time. Such a privilege to be there.

Eventually I retired as president. I was ready for something new. Working with some of the greatest people I knew—Rich Erdmann, KiKu Hanes and Hadlai Hull—we founded The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit chartered for both conservation and economic development. But like other nonprofits of the time, we needed capital for conservation deals. That’s when the idea for the Revolving Fund was born.

Establishing the Revolving Fund was critical to our founding back in 1985, and it remains our lifeblood today. When we acquire land, we draw on our Revolving Fund to finance the deal; once that money is returned, it goes right to work on the next great project. Early on, we received funding for our Revolving Fund from a few key funders, like the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The Revolving Fund has kept us moving forward for more than three decades, but the need to expand it remains stronger than ever. With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, we have an exciting opportunity to protect land at a pace greater than ever before. But just as in 1985, we’ll need the capital to do so.

The Conservation Fund has always incubated new ideas and kept the very best. Just as we envisioned in the early days, we still work with government entities, corporations and other nonprofits; it’s these partnerships that leverage our results and help define us as an organization. We still believe collaboration is key to success and that ideas grow bigger when you share them with multiple partners and local communities.

It has been a special privilege to serve in the environmental field for the past 50 years. I’ve had the pleasure to work with and share a passion for the environment with so many wonderful, dedicated professionals and volunteers. Every day these people reach beyond personal self-interest to embrace a vision for the long-range goals of our natural resources and an improved quality of life for everyone. Our future will be brighter than ever before as we engage our nation in the newest era of sustainability. The gratitude of future generations will be thanks enough for our work.


back to our 2020 annual report