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Natural Resources Defense Council


Frances Beinecke's Blog


I am the president of NRDC. I started here in 1973, just a few years after John Adams and a handful of other wildly dedicated people founded this organization. Back then, there were about a dozen people in the country practicing environmental law, and most of them worked at NRDC. The whole concept of writing laws and public policy to protect the Earth was brand new, and it was thrilling to be a part of it at that early point.

I came to NRDC with a background in environmental studies and a strong desire to help protect the Northeastern forests and wild Western landscapes I loved so much. I started as an intern working to preserve forests through careful land use planning. But when the 1970s oil crisis unleashed a drive to open the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas drilling, I advocated for stronger safeguards for marine life. I left NRDC for a few years when my three daughters were young, and I came back as the group’s first executive director. In 2006, I became president, and I remain honored and awed to lead this remarkable institution.

And I love my job. First of all, I get to work with some of the best minds in the business. And second, I love that NRDC is all about finding solutions. I am a pragmatic person and an optimist, and I believe that most of the challenges facing the Earth can be solved with the right combination of passion, policy, and technology. With this job, I get to see many of those solutions firsthand--from wind farms off the coast of Denmark to marine reserves around California’s Channel Islands to green buildings in China--and work to bring them to more landscapes and more people.
Roots in:
New Jersey, New York City, and the Adirondacks
Favorite place:
Walking through the woods around Long Lake in the Adirondacks with my husband and three daughters.
Why "environmentalism" matters:
I have three daughters in their early twenties who love the outdoors. But I can see that they are concerned about the future. Cancer has struck our family, and my girls wonder if the toxins lurking in food and everyday products will make them sick too. And acid rain has hammered the forests around our home in the Adirondacks, and my girls worry that the lakes won’t be safe to swim in by the time they have children.

I look at my daughters and I think: this burden of worry can not be their inheritance. We can not leave the next generation to grapple with ecological messes that we can solve today.

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