After almost a decade at RAN, I want to share the news that I have decided to make room for new leadership. This was of course not an easy decision, but I know it is the right one — for me and for Rainforest Action Network. I am working closely with the board and staff on this transition and January 1, 2020 will be my last day as executive director.
As you may know, I came to RAN to lead the palm oil work targeting Cargill as the largest importer of palm oil into the U.S. I was inspired by the audacity of such a small and mighty team to take on one of the largest privately held corporations in the world — to demand what’s necessary even when faced with challenging odds or claims of ‘impossible.’ I agreed to take the job when our former E.D. Becky Tarbotton offered me the gig with a hard-pitch phone call just before I was to depart for a trip to Brazil. She gave me very little time to deliberate. I think she expected I might find another job offer in the Brazilian Amazon. But I appreciated her and RAN’s moxie, and I accepted.
During my time at RAN, I’ve witnessed amazing progress in our effort to keep forests standing, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and to uphold human and Indigenous rights. I was on the floor of the U.N. when Cargill publicly committed to protect tropical forests across their supply chains. During my tenure, RAN also secured a sweeping paper policy from Disney — prompting the two largest companies that were destroying forests in Indonesia for pulp and paper to commit to policies addressing their environmental and social impacts. We saw Bank of America become the first Wall Street bank to commit to phasing out funding for coal mining, which was then followed by other big banks. Thanks to RAN, Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” put a spotlight on the ability of forests to protect us from the worst impacts of climate change. Over the past ten years, our staff and budget have doubled in size — all while taking the network part of our name seriously by working in deep partnership with Indigenous and frontline communities that are driving us toward the solutions we need.
Our groundbreaking campaigns target the banks financing forest destruction and the brands that sell products from destroyed ancient rainforests. Our efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground means we work with partners to pull the financial rug out from under fossil fuel companies by targeting banks and disrupting their ability to get extraction projects insured. And all of this work is made possible by your support. So I want to use this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and supporting RAN. We need your help now more than ever.
This work has been critical and rewarding. In natural forests, one of the gifts passed from one tree to the next generation is when it gets out of the sunlight and falls to the forest floor where it provides critical nutrients to the ecosystem. I am not ready to be compost yet — but I am grateful to have the support of our board and staff as I make way for new growth.
As a critical part of our network, we will need your help in the search to find our next executive director. The position announcement will be posted in the coming weeks and we would all appreciate any support and suggestions you can provide.
Thank you for this wild and wonderful ride. If you’re interested in celebrating this transition in person and will be in the Bay Area on October 3rd, please join me for my last REVEL as executive director. I would not be where I am today without a tremendous amount of support and encouragement. For that I am extremely grateful. And I plan to stay in this movement with you.
See you in the streets,
Rainforest Action Network
[PS] P.S. As I write, fires intentionally set in the Amazon rainforest continue to rage. Please join us in supporting Indigenous and local resistance to protect the Amazon.