An Update From Our CEO

A New Chapter

I will be retiring on August 1, 2020.

We’re all still learning how the effects of COVID-19 will impact our lives and our communities. The times may be anything but normal, but Sonoran staff is working from home, our happy hours are now virtual check-ins to see how one another are faring on both sides of the border, and we’re doing our best each day. To me, there would never be a perfect moment to retire, because our rivers, water supplies, lands and communities living in the North American West continue to require action. We’re facing climate change along with the complexities 2020 has brought. However, we know our friends and supporters are strong, resilient and solutions-oriented, and so is this organization. Together, we have a track record of creating resilient communities that thrive in uncertain environments. We have no plans of slowing down.

Santa Cruz River in April 2018, Carmen, Arizona. Photo: ©Bill Hatcher/Sonoran Institute

It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as your CEO over the last 5 ½ years. I think we can all be proud of the accomplishments we have made together in that time.

We have strengthened our mission to connect people and communities to the natural resources that nourish and sustain us by refocusing and refining our programs to make the greatest impact in fulfilling our mission. Our Growing Water Smart program has served municipalities in Colorado representing more than half the state’s population, and the results we’re seeing show that the workshops are well on the way to becoming the gold standard across the Colorado River Basin to achieve a sustainable water future. Our efforts on the Santa Cruz River are ensuring excellent science and creative partnerships that help ensure water for nature in perpetuity for this iconic desert river system. We’re celebrating new flowing stretches and improved credits for releasing water back to nature. And our work in the Colorado River Delta has inched ever closer to making the dream of the river reconnecting with the sea a reality—something that now happens more than 150 days per year instead of practically never. Further, in all these programs we have paid special attention to cultural preservation, economic development, and environmental equity so that our work serves all people and all communities equally.

Grand Opening for the Sonoran Institute Laguna Grande Interpretive Center , Colorado River Delta, Baja California, Mexico. April 6, 2018. ©Bill Hatcher/Sonoran Institute, 2019

We have become a truly binational organization, successfully integrating Mexicali and US operations. We are still undertaking diversity, equity and inclusion planning to ensure that our staff and board feel heard, respected and essential to the decisions we make. We have stabilized our finances, completed our endowment match, nearly doubled the size of our endowment fund, and enhanced our investment portfolio management.

And while there are internal and external challenges ahead, we have the highest level staff and board in place to lead this wonderful organization into the future.

Birdwatching in Mexicali

I will be working in collaboration with our board over the next 3 months to ensure a successful leadership transition prioritizing ample support for the staff, open communication with you: our partners and donors, and continue to provide our much needed services to the community. After all, Sonoran Institute is adept in managing uncertainty and change through collaboration, civil dialogue, equity and inclusion, practical solutions and big-picture thinking.

While I will miss being your CEO, I will be watching with excitement as Sonoran Institute’s next chapter unfolds.

Blog Post By: Stephanie SklarChief Executive Officer of the Sonoran Institute

Stephanie Sklar