Roles of the ED and the Waterkeeper - dual or separate

Session Date & Time: 
May 6, 2012 - 10:30am
Session Length: 
90 minutes
Skill Level: 

Mary Ellen Olcese, River Network

Marc Yaggi, Waterkeeper Alliance

This session, designed for both Board and staff members, will delve into the commonalities and distinctions of the role of an Executive Director and the role of a Waterkeeper in an organization. We will explore the pros and cons of one person filling both roles, as well as the pros and cons for splitting the role between two persons. We will look into the necessary competencies, operational logistics, and financial issues that arise around the decision to have one or two positions. Groups that have recently studied this dual role for their own organization will share the process and decisions that they made and how they are currently operating with one or two persons filling the roles of Executive Director and Waterkeeper.

Presenter Bio(s): 

Mary Ellen Olcese joined River Network as the Mid-Atlantic Program Manager in late 2007. She works with river and watershed groups throughout the area with special focus on Chesapeake Bay groups. Based in St. Michaels, Maryland, she brings to the position 20+ years of experience working with nonprofit organizations, as an education director, development director, and executive director. From 1999 through 2007 she worked as an independent consultant for community and conservation groups on issues of fundraising, strategic planning and organizational development. She received a BA and a BS from the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree from Boston University.

Appointed Waterkeeper Alliance's Executive Director in June 2011, Marc Yaggi provides organizational leadership, builds cohesion between the organization's support and advocacy functions, and coordinates advocacy efforts between the Alliance and its member organizations around the world. Marc is based at Waterkeeper Alliance headquarters in New York.

For more than a decade working within the Waterkeeper movement, Marc has been instrumental in expanding the Alliance's international reach, helping to start new Waterkeeper programs around the world. As Deputy Director (April 2010 to June 2011) and Director of Waterkeeper Support (2005-2010), Marc has developed and maintained strong relationships with Waterkeepers and promoted their work in multiple outlets. In addition, Marc leads Waterkeeper Alliance's media strategy and outreach efforts in order to raise public awareness of the environmental issues central to the organization's mission.

Before joining Waterkeeper Alliance, Marc was a Senior Attorney and Watershed Program Director for Riverkeeper, Inc., where he worked to protect the 2,000-square mile watershed that serves as New York City's drinking water supply. At Riverkeeper, Marc advised environmental advocates and citizens throughout the watershed on strategic planning to oppose harmful development projects and strengthen government protection policies. Before joining Riverkeeper, Marc served as a Staff Attorney with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. He has authored legal articles on the U.S. Supreme Court, marine mammal protection, road salt, impervious surfaces, sprawl, and clean air.

Marc is a 1993 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University. He earned a J.D. from the Pace University School of Law in 1997 and obtained an LL.M in Environmental Law in May 2002.