Francisco Zamora Takes on a New Role as Senior Director of Programs

Sonoran Institute Names Francisco Zamora Senior Director of Programs

John Shepard becomes Senior Adviser to the CEO
Dr. Francisco Zamora. ©Bill Hatcher/Sonoran Institute, 2021

Francisco Zamora, our long-time leader in the Colorado River Delta, is taking on a new role for the Sonoran Institute as senior director of programs. Under Francisco’s leadership during the past 20 years, the Delta team has restored over 700 acres, participated in the monumental 2014 pulse flow, and continues to steward water deliveries, restoration projects and community outreach. In his new role, Francisco now leads the organization’s overall strategy to keep rivers flowing and to inspire growing communities to conserve nature.

“I look forward to working with staff, board members and partners in achieving our conservation goals.”

Francisco performing a vegetation survey at the Bill Williams River, AZ. Early 2000’s

“I am grateful to staff and board members for this new opportunity. To me it represents a very significant milestone in my professional career and in my life. I look forward to working with staff, board members and partners in achieving our conservation goals,” says Dr. Zamora.

Francisco replaces John Shepard, who will become senior adviser to the CEO. Celebrating 25 years with the Sonoran Institute, John has been instrumental in shaping our programs.

Our renewable energy initiatives, a focus of ours between 2009-2016, are particularly meaningful to him. “Sonoran Institute doesn’t shy away from tackling challenging issues. Determining where to site large scale solar and wind projects and the transmission lines, is one of those issues. We collaboratively identified nearly 200,000 compatible acres in Arizona. Approved projects located on suitable lands have the capacity to power nearly 400,000 homes and include one of the few fully permitted long-distance transmission lines—extending from Arizona to California. What made this so satisfying was playing a role from the initial concept to successfully implementing it in less than eight years,” says John.

John at the entrance to our Laguna Grande Interpretive Center

John Shepard will spearhead our new strategic initiatives with indigenous communities and border cities, as well as continue to provide leadership to our Raise the River collaboration with National Audubon Society, Pronatura Noroeste, Restauremos el Río, The Nature Conservancy, and The Redford Center. The Raise the River collaboration seeks to reconnect the Colorado River to the sea.

Join us in celebrating the new roles of Francisco and John at the Sonoran Institute by sharing good wishes, memories and photos with us on social media.

Blog post by Mike Zellner, chief executive officer of the Sonoran Institute.

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