NEW YORK, NY -- March 10 -- John Adams, founding executive director of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and a leading figure in modern American environmentalism, announced today that he will step down as president of the organization he helped create 35 years ago. The move will take effect on January 1, 2006.
Under Adams' leadership, the New York-based NRDC has become one of the world's most effective advocacy organizations, with more than 1 million members and activists and a staff of nearly 300.
The NRDC board of trustees has selected Frances Beinecke to assume the presidency when Adams steps down. Beinecke, who has been the organization's executive director since 1998, first came to NRDC in 1973. She has been integral to NRDC's growth, and will assume the new role with Adams' complete and enthusiastic support.
"Frances Beinecke is an extraordinarily talented, visionary leader who has helped steer our successful efforts through periods of both great promise, and tremendous challenge," Adams said. "She is a dear friend and outstanding colleague who will stand tall in the fight to protect human health, preserve our natural heritage and guard the world's wild habitats."
The decision has been under discussion with the NRDC board for some time, Adams said, adding that NRDC's strength and depth of leadership will make the transition as easy as it is appropriate. Adams will maintain an active role in NRDC's efforts to safeguard the Earth, and the people who live on it.
"NRDC is triply lucky," said Frederick A.O. Schwarz, chair of the NRDC board. "We are lucky to have had John Adams at the helm for 35 years of dynamic growth; we are lucky to have Frances Beinecke standing ready to accept the presidency with such capable hands; and we are lucky to have John's continuing involvement in key initiatives into the future."
The move comes at a time when NRDC is using its strength not only to counter attempts to undermine environmental protection, but also to press forward on the creation of new solutions to guard our water, air and wildlife.
"We have tremendous opportunities to meet the environmental challenges of the modern world; our job is to make it happen. NRDC is working hard to help business and political leaders deliver the solutions we need for the 21st century," Beinecke said.
John Adams co-founded NRDC in 1970, following a five-year tour of duty as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan. His tenure with the organization encompasses the creation of pioneering laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, as well as more recent battles over global warming and energy security. In addition to his work at NRDC, Adams has taught for 26 years as an adjunct faculty member at New York University law school, where he created the NYU/NRDC Environmental Law Clinic. Adams is chairman of the board of the Open Space Institute -- beneficiary of a $100 million trust for land protection in New York State -- and serves on boards of the Woods Hole Research Center and the League of Conservation Voters. He is a graduate of Duke University Law School and Michigan State University.
Frances Beinecke has had a distinguished career in conservation, rising through the ranks of NRDC since first coming to the group in 1973. She started out working to protect New York State's natural landscapes and stop irresponsible offshore oil and gas development. She later headed a comprehensive restructuring that kept NRDC at the strategic forefront in environmental advocacy. She has been executive director since 1998, and served in the number two position in the organization since 1990. An avid defender of habitat and wild places, Beinecke has also chaired the boards of the Wilderness Society and the Adirondack Council. She is currently on the boards of trustees of the World Resources Institute and the New York League of Conservation Voters. She is a graduate of Yale University with a master's degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 1 million members and online activists nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.