Jennifer Palmer Appointed New Executive Director of the George Wright Society

Jennifer Palmer, a conservation scientist, educator, and wildlife biologist, has been announced as the new Executive Director of the George Wright Society.

The appointment follows an extensive search by the Board of Directors to find a leader to succeed David Harmon, who is stepping down after 27 years with the Society, 19 of them as Executive Director. Under his guidance, the GWS has become a leading organization helping connect people, places, knowledge, and ideas to foster excellence in natural and cultural resource management, research, protection, and interpretation in parks, protected areas, and cultural sites.

“Finding a new leader to fill Dave’s shoes was never going to be an easy task, be we feel very lucky to have found someone with Jennifer’s cross-cutting background and expertise in conservation science, education, communications, and biology,” said GWS President Nathalie Gagnon.

Jennifer has worked across the U.S. and internationally in more than 35 countries, and has an astounding record of success with more than 15 years working with organizations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), NOAA, The Ocean Foundation, and the WILD Foundation. A prestigious Kinship Conservation Fellow who has worked with luminaries such as Dr. Sylvia Earle, Jennifer is also the founder of Women for Wildlife, an initiative committed to promoting women as leaders in the fields of conservation and wildlife biology.

“I am thrilled to join such a premier organization of leaders and experts devoted to natural and cultural resource management, research, protection, and interpretation across North America and the world,” said Jennifer on her appointment. “I look forward to serving our remarkable membership and building new partnerships in this diverse and inspiring community.”

The transition in leadership will begin in January, with the formal handover happening in early April, 2017, at the Society’s biannual conference ( in Norfolk, Virginia. After the transition, Dave will be staying on with the Society on a part-time basis, dedicated to advancing specific projects, while our Membership and Conference Coordinator, Emily Dekker-Fiala, will continue to support the Society in her existing role.

As part of this transition, Jennifer will also be relocating the George Wright Society from Michigan to the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We are excited for the Society to be ‘coming home’ to the Bay Area, where George Melendez Wright studied and did so much of his work ground-breaking scientific research, and where members of his family still reside,” said Board President Nathalie Gagnon.

The Society is named after George Melendez Wright, the first Chief of Wildlife and a pioneer of research-based policy making with the US National Park Service back in the 1920s and 1930s. For more information, visit

[Contact: Nathalie Gagnon,]