Posted on 07 October 2011.
Jamie Rappaport Clark takes the helm as president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. Clark has been with Defenders for seven years as the executive vice president.
As a woman, mother, wildlife biologist, advocate and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Clark brings a wealth of expertise and passion to Defenders.
“My whole life, I have felt a moral obligation to conserve wildlife and our natural resources. This is not a job to me, this is my life’s mission and a pursuit of what I love to do,” Clark said.
Clark followed her lifelong passion and chose a career in wildlife biology. In her early years, she released peregrine falcons into the wild as part of a successful recovery effort — so successful, in fact, that 20 years later she had the honor of removing them from the list of endangered species as director.
Clark came to Defenders after a 20-year career with the federal government, mostly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed her as director of the service, a post she held until 2001. During her tenure as director, she oversaw the addition of 27 new refuges and two million acres to the National Wildlife Refuge System, and she presided over the recovery of key endangered species such as the bald eagle, gray wolf and the Aleutian Canada goose.
My whole life, I have felt a moral obligation to conserve wildlife and our natural resources. This is not a job to me, this is my life’s mission and a pursuit of what I love to do.
Clark’s tenure as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was also marked by the adoption of innovative policies to encourage landowners to voluntarily conserve wildlife, including the safe harbor program and expanded habitat and candidate conservation programs. Under her leadership, the Fish and Wildlife Service worked with Congress to pass the landmark National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, which established wildlife conservation as the primary purpose of all wildlife refuges.
As executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife for the past seven years, Clark provided added credibility to the organization with her years of on the ground expertise and as a leader of a national wildlife agency. She is recognized as a leading expert on endangered wildlife.
Her passion for wildlife is shared by her family. Jim Clark, her husband of 22 years, was a national wildlife refuge manager and is presently an award-winning nature photographer and author. Her 12-year-old son, Carson, named after the renowned environmental writer Rachel Carson, is also an award-winning nature photographer and author of a series of children’s books featuring “Buddy the Beaver.”
Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology from Towson State University in Towson, Maryland, where she also did post-graduate work in environmental planning. She holds a master’s degree in wildlife ecology from the University of Maryland.