Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark today announced her decision to step down from her position in 2024. Clark has served Defenders for 20 years, including the last 13 as president and CEO.
“I have dedicated my career to conservation and believe at this point in my life that I can have a greater impact for wildlife by applying my passion, knowledge and expertise in a different way,” Clark said. “I look forward to focusing my time and energy more directly on pressing conservation challenges impacting imperiled species and important landscapes and helping foster the next generation of wildlife conservationists.”
A wildlife biologist by training, after serving in key wildlife positions at the Department of Defense, Clark moved on to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where she ultimately became one of the first women to serve as Director of the agency. She also served in senior positions in the environmental community before joining Defenders in 2004. Under Clark’s leadership, Defenders established itself as the nation’s leading wildlife conservation organization and a relentless champion of wildlife from the halls of Congress to the courts, to federal and state governments and private and public lands.
“Jamie Rappaport Clark is an icon in the conservation movement,” said Mark Caylor, Chair of Defenders’ Board of Directors. “Defenders has been tremendously fortunate to benefit from her vision, leadership and direction over the past two decades. Her conservation ethic and tireless commitment to saving endangered species and special places have benefited all of us who value wildlife and the importance of saving nature. Jamie will be dearly missed.”
In addition to being a leading expert on the Endangered Species Act, Clark’s enduring impact at Defenders includes the launch of the Center for Conservation Innovation, which advances the use of data, technology, science and interdisciplinary approaches to promote sound biodiversity conservation policies at the federal, state, Tribal and local level. Defenders also expanded its field presence to the Northwest, Southeast, Texas and New Mexico to broaden its capacity to work on imperiled species and important landscapes, while pioneering increasingly innovative coexistence techniques that foster social acceptance for keystone predators.
Jamie will remain in her position while the Board of Directors conducts a search for her successor.