Keene Valley – The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce Peg Olsen as the Adirondack Chapter’s new director. Olsen, who brings to the position regional, national and international conservation experience and an extensive leadership track record, looks forward to applying her skills in the Adirondacks, with its unique mixture of vast, protected forests and rural communities.
“I have worked in so many beautiful places in the United States and around the globe but my heart has always been in the Adirondacks. This opportunity is allowing me to come home and work in my own backyard. In the face of climate change, the Adirondack Park, as a grand experiment in protecting an intact ecosystem while balancing the economic needs of its residents, is more important than ever before. With its impressive accomplishments, can-do spirit, and innovation, I’m thrilled to work for The Nature Conservancy to continue to apply cutting-edge climate science and solutions-oriented approaches to tackle the conservation challenges ahead,” said Olsen.
Olsen most recently served as The National Audubon Society’s Chief Conservation Officer and Atlantic Flyway Vice President, overseeing 23 state programs, including 46 nature centers, as well as international programs. She is returning to The Nature Conservancy, where she worked from 1989 – 2003, holding various positions, including Eastern New York Chapter Director, overseeing a staff of 17, and Asia Pacific Region Deputy Director, managing operations with 185 staff across 14 times zones in China, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, Palau, Australia and the United States. She has put her fundraising, communications, human resources, ingenuity and capacity building skills to work throughout her career, including launching the Conservancy’s Australia Program.
“Peg brings a wealth of experience and a passion for the Adirondacks to this position,” said Stuart F. Gruskin, The Nature Conservancy’s Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer in New York. “As a seasoned conservationist with a global vision, Peg is the perfect person to lead our Adirondack chapter as we work locally and regionally to address the most important environmental challenges of our time—including land and water protection, reducing the causes of climate change, and utilizing nature to adapt in a climate changing world.”
Olsen’s love of the outdoors and sense of adventure were shaped by hiking and paddling in the Adirondacks, where she has spent a lifetime exploring woods and waters. She earned two degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: a PhD. in Ecological Economics and a Master’s of Science in Urban and Environmental Studies. She also earned a Bachelor’s in Political Science from University of New Hampshire. After focusing on ecological economics and land use in the Lake George Basin as part of her post-graduate studies, Olsen began her conservation career in the Adirondacks by helping to launch the Lake George Land Conservancy, a watershed-based land trust with an office in Bolton Landing.
“This is an exciting time for The Nature Conservancy and we welcome Peg to our talented Adirondack team. Peg will take us to new heights as we continue to expand our conservation strategies in this inspiring landscape where people and nature can thrive,” said Sarah Underhill, Chair of the Adirondack chapter’s Board of Trustees.
The Nature Conservancy’s mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Nature Conservancy has been operating in the Adirondacks since 1971, accomplishing unparalleled land protection (585,000 acres protected to date, including Boreas Ponds, Lake Lila, and Lyon Mountain), establishing innovative stewardship programs (Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program), collaborating with partners (state, county, and local governments, landowners and non-profits), and investing in science to guide its actions (assessing road-stream crossings in the Champlain watershed; assessing the status and resiliency of lake trout in the face of climate change). Under Olsen’s leadership, the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter will continue to serve as a conservation leader in the Adirondacks and beyond.