Sonoran Institute Names New CEO

Mike Zellner brings 30 years of leadership experience to U.S.-Mexico conservation organization

TUCSON, September 23, 2020 – The Sonoran Institute, a leading U.S.-Mexico conservation organization, has appointed Mike Zellner as Chief Executive Officer. His decades of leadership, proven management skills, and passion for the Sonoran Institute’s mission will drive the organization to deliver on its ambitious mission—connecting people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them.

“With its deep pool of talent and rich history of community-based, conservation success, I am honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Sonoran Institute team in protecting and restoring rivers and working to secure clean, ample water for all people and the environment,” says Zellner. “The first thing I want conservationists, friends and supporters of Sonoran Institute to know is that we are going to build a better future together.”

Courtesy, Mike Zellner

Zellner joins the Sonoran Institute with 30 years of experience building award-winning collaborations for global organizations. At The Nature Conservancy, Zellner collaborated with global, regional and local stakeholders to conserve more than 450,000 acres, fundraise more than $30 million, build advisory boards in Latin America, and secure the largest corporate partnership in the history of the organization. Before joining The Nature Conservancy, Zellner worked for more than two decades as a business journalist in Mexico and the Americas. At the end of the 1990s, Zellner made the shift from editor-in-chief to owner, buying Miami-based business magazine Latin Trade and leading the publication to 27 editorial awards in seven years.

Beginning September 28, Zellner will be based at the organization’s headquarters in Tucson. Zellner replaces Stephanie Sklar, who retired in August 2020. Fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Zellner has lived in Miami, Santiago, São Paulo, and Mexico City and will champion the Sonoran Institute’s cross-border collaboration, uniting diverse groups in conservation success.

“Mike Zellner brings to the Sonoran Institute business and conservation expertise with an inclusive, multilingual, collaborative leadership style that will propel our team and partners to even greater impact in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands,” says Mary Alexander, chair of the Board of Directors of the Sonoran Institute.

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

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