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May 1, 2014 – National Wildlife Federation, America’s oldest and largest wildlife conservation and education organization, announced last night at the annual NWF Conservation Achievement Awards gala that its Board of Directors has appointed Delaware Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O’Mara to serve as the next President and Chief Executive Officer effective July 7, 2014. He will succeed Larry Schweiger who is retiring May 2, 2014 after serving for 10 years as NWF’s President and CEO.
Secretary O’Mara will be joining NWF from the state government of Delaware where he has led the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control since 2009. In that position, Secretary O’Mara served as the state’s top environmental official, led the state’s efforts to conserve and restore wildlife and fishery habitat, improve air quality and public health, ensure access to clean water, expand outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities, and enhance the state’s resilience to extreme weather and other climate impacts.
When Secretary O’Mara was appointed in 2009, he was the youngest state cabinet official in the nation. Over the past several years, he has spearheaded a range of initiatives, including Delaware’s “No Child Left Inside”/ Children In Nature campaign, a comprehensive strategy to confront childhood obesity by reintroducing children to the outdoors; the First State Trails and Pathways Plan, a multi-year initiative to expand and connect the state’s trail system; and the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, an effort to establish the region as a world-class conservation and low-impact recreation tourism destination for hunting, birding, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking, as part of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
In addition, Secretary O’Mara led the largest investment in environmental infrastructure in Delaware’s history, including more than $200 million in wastewater and storm water systems, beach restoration, dam and dike repair, drainage projects, and park and wildlife area. At the same time, he successfully executed the first significant reorganization of the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control since 1972, to make the agency more effective at implementing strategic priorities and more efficient in carrying out its mission at a time of limited resources.
“Collin is a tireless leader with a deep understanding of conservation issues and a strong, entrepreneurial spirit,” said Deborah Spalding, Chair of the NWF Board of Directors. “His track record in implementing innovative solutions to conservation challenges and his experience in managing large, complex organizations with a diverse stakeholder base are key skills that will be critical in taking the Federation forward in the coming years.”
“Confronting the pressing conservation challenges of this generation will require that Americans from every corner of our nation and every walk of life work together community by community and state by state to drive change at the national and international level,” said incoming CEO O’Mara. “The National Wildlife Federation has a proud legacy of bringing diverse groups together to protect wildlife, advancing landscape scale conservation, expanding environmental education, promoting outdoor recreation from hunting and fishing to birding, kayaking and wildlife watching, and driving meaningful policy change at every level of government. I look forward to building upon Larry’s inspiring work as we do our generation’s part to leave a healthier and more sustainable planet for all wildlife and future generations.”
Secretary O’Mara has served on numerous boards including as Co-Chair of the Natural Resources and Agriculture Subcommittee of the President’s Task Force on Climate Adaptation and Preparedness, past Chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, past Chair of the Ozone Transport Commission, Chair of the Climate and Energy Subcommittee of the Environmental Council of the States, Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Sustainable Energy Utility Oversight Board, State Water Supply Coordinating Council, the Delaware Cancer Consortium, Open Space Council, Nutrient Management Commission, the Center for the Inland Bays, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.
Prior to his current position, O’Mara served as the Clean Tech Strategist for the City of San Jose, California, where was the primary architect of the City of San Jose’s Green Vision and as the Director of SyraStat for the City of Syracuse, New York, where he oversaw the City’s performance management and accountability program.
A native of Syracuse, New York, O’Mara was a Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, a University Fellow at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a Presidential Scholar at Dartmouth College. He is a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional, and completed Stanford Business School’s Executive Management Program in Environmental Sustainability.
O’Mara’s selection is the result of a national executive search undertaken by the NWF Board of Directors with Russell Reynolds Associates. Said Schweiger, “I am pleased that Collin shares NWF’s commitment to addressing climate change, protecting wildlife and connecting kids with nature and I wish him well.”