New Year Ushers In Changing of the Guard for Green Groups

Cox Pavilion at UNLV August 10, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Political and economic leaders are attending a two-day summit to discuss a domestic policy agenda to advance alternative energy for the country's future.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Jan. 4, 2014, 4:39 a.m.

The new year is ush­er­ing in a chan­ging of the guard with­in the en­vir­on­ment­al move­ment.

Mag­gie Fox, pres­id­ent and CEO of the Al Gore-foun­ded Cli­mate Real­ity Pro­ject, an­nounced Fri­day that she’s step­ping down this spring after five years.

Fox is the latest of sev­er­al en­vir­on­ment­al group of­fi­cials to an­nounce plans to de­part in re­cent months.

Two of the largest U.S. green groups are also look­ing for new lead­er­ship.

Na­tion­al Wild­life Fed­er­a­tion Pres­id­ent and CEO Larry Sch­wei­ger is leav­ing in May, while Nat­ur­al Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Frances Bei­necke will step down at the end of 2014.

Else­where, Cen­ter for Cli­mate and En­ergy Solu­tions Pres­id­ent Eileen Claussen is leav­ing, too.

“It hap­pens in every pro­fes­sion: An older gen­er­a­tion gives way to a new one. In this case, a new gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers needs to step up,” said Frank O’Don­nell, pres­id­ent of Clean Air Watch.

But at Green­peace USA, a mem­ber of that young­er gen­er­a­tion is step­ping aside too.

Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Phil Rad­ford, who is in his late 30s, will leave the job this spring after five years at the helm, a Green­peace USA spokes­man said Sat­urday.

Gore’s group, formerly called the Al­li­ance for Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion, was foun­ded in 2006 and was part of the big and ul­ti­mately failed en­vir­on­ment­al move­ment push to win en­act­ment of cap-and-trade le­gis­la­tion in 2009-10.

The group rebranded as the Cli­mate Real­ity Pro­ject in 2011. Its vari­ous com­mu­nic­a­tions and or­gan­iz­ing pro­jects seek to spread the mes­sage that cli­mate change is, as the group’s title sug­gests, real and dan­ger­ous.

“Over the past three years, we have op­er­ated with a start-up men­tal­ity as cli­mate en­tre­pren­eurs, call­ing out den­iers, while also con­nect­ing the dots for in­di­vidu­als seek­ing to un­der­stand the real­ity of cli­mate change and its im­pact on their every­day lives,” Fox said in a state­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon.

Gore, in a state­ment, called Fox an “ex­traordin­ary and ef­fect­ive lead­er” and said she was re­turn­ing to “or­gan­iz­ing and ad­vocacy” in her home state of Col­or­ado.

Fox plans to help Gore and the group’s board find a new lead­er. Be­fore join­ing the Cli­mate Real­ity Pro­ject, Fox held roles in­clud­ing na­tion­al pres­id­ent of Amer­ica Votes and deputy ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Si­erra Club.

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