Her Career Improved Conservation Outcomes in the West

Stephanie Sklar, Sonoran Institute CEO announces retirement

Stephanie Sklar, Chief Executive Officer at Sonoran Institute, has announced her retirement as of August 1, 2020 concluding her 35-year career devoted to natural resource, wildlife and open space conservation.

For the past 5-1/2 years, Stephanie led the Sonoran Institute, with more than 60 staff located throughout the North American West, where achievements made by the Tucson-based non-profit during Sklar’s leadership include strategic strengthening of the organization’s mission:

The Growing Water Smart program has served municipalities in Colorado representing more than half the state’s population leading the Colorado River basin to a more sustainable water future, and has been expanded to serve Arizona. The workshops, a partnership with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy, are being expanded to other basin states. In Southern Arizona, community engagement and policy-level changes, such as improved water recharge credits, will ensure water in perpetuity for the Santa Cruz River. Institute staff, and in Mexico, staff and volunteers have restored thousands of acres in the Colorado River Delta benefiting local communities, migratory birds and wildlife.

“Stephanie has been such a good communicator of our organization’s mission which has helped us focus our efforts and develop the resources we need to be successful. In particular, Stephanie’s ability to demonstrate the importance of conservation to benefit economic development and long-term sustainability has been critical to our success,” says, Mary Alexander, Chair, Sonoran Institute Board of Directors.

Previously, Sklar served as Director of Development for the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, Executive Director of Social Venture Partners of Greater Tucson, and Executive Director of the Arizona League of Conservation Voters. Before moving to Arizona in 1994, Stephanie was Vice President for Public Affairs for the National Wildlife Federation, Vice President for Communications at The Nature Conservancy, and appointed by President Reagan as Communications Director for the President’s Commission on Americans Outdoors.

Special attention to cultural preservation, economic development, and environmental equity has been vital to Sklar’s tenure. Diversity, equity and inclusion issues are regularly explored and championed by Sonoran Institute staff, and promoted with partners and supporters thanks to Sklar’s dedication to providing time and resources for learning and engagement.

A search for a new CEO is underway, and a seamless transition is her priority: “I will be working in collaboration with our board over the next 3 months prioritizing ample support for staff and open communication with partners and donors to provide our much needed services to the community,” says Sklar.

Staying in Tucson will allow Sklar to enjoy the beauty of the Santa Catalina Mountains and see the next chapter of the Sonoran Institute unfold with its deepening focus on water issues to best meet the challenges climate change is bringing to the Colorado River basin.


Contact: Corinne Matesich
Marketing Communications Manager
(520) 290-0828 x 1105