American Rivers announces Tom Kiernan as CEO

February 11, 2021

Leader with decades of state and federal conservation experience to take the helm of nation’s premier river conservation organization.

February 11, 2021
Contact: Amy Kober, 503-708-1145

Tom Kiernan
Tom Kiernan

American Rivers has named Tom Kiernan, former CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and former President of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), as its next President and CEO. Throughout his career, Kiernan has been dedicated to protecting the nation’s lands and waters, diversifying the conservation movement and advancing innovative solutions to benefit people and nature.

His decades of leadership, proven management expertise and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will build on American Rivers’ strong track record of success and propel the organization toward achieving its vision of clean water and healthy rivers everywhere, for everyone.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this outstanding organization. The work that American Rivers does is absolutely vital to every person in our country,” said Kiernan. “No matter who you are or where you live, you need clean water and healthy rivers. When we protect and restore rivers, we improve the health of our families, boost our economy, save critical ecosystems, and invest in our future.”

“Healthy rivers are critical to addressing some of our nation’s biggest challenges including environmental injustice and the impacts of climate change. I am energized and ready to take American Rivers forward.”

Kiernan led AWEA for over seven years, growing the organization and advancing a clean energy policy agenda to fight climate change. As President of the National Parks Conservation Association from 1998-2013, he co-founded the Healing Our Waters Coalition, an initiative of more than 100 organizations and businesses dedicated to clean water in the Great Lakes. With his team, he established the Community Partners Program at NPCA in 1999 – one of the first diversity programs of any major conservation organization.  

“I am delighted to welcome Tom to American Rivers. He is an accomplished executive and strong team-focused leader. His 30 years of success in conservation, combined with his visionary and strategic leadership, make him an excellent fit for American Rivers,” said John Haydock, Chair of the American Rivers Board of Directors.

“The Transition Committee’s extensive and inclusive search produced a talented and diverse pool of candidates. Tom’s management experience, fundraising expertise and proven commitment to diversity made him stand out as the candidate who will continue this organization’s strong momentum and create exciting new opportunities as American Rivers enters this new chapter,” said Transition Committee Chair Pallavi Phartiyal.

In addition to his expertise as a conservation leader, Kiernan has a strong personal connection to rivers. He developed a love for rivers at a young age, growing up on the Potomac River in metropolitan Washington, DC and kayaking daily throughout high school and college. He co-founded the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center and worked at the Nantahala Outdoor Center guiding trips throughout the Southeast including on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga River. Today, he is an avid rower who spends time on the Potomac River most mornings. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Kiernan will start at American Rivers on February 22, 2021. The CEO search was led by Koya Leadership Partners.

About American Rivers

American Rivers believes a future of clean water and healthy rivers for everyone, everywhere is essential. Since 1973, we have protected wild rivers, restored damaged rivers and conserved clean water for people and nature. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 300,000 supporters, members and volunteers across the country, we are the most trusted and influential river conservation organization in the United States, delivering solutions for a better future. Because life needs rivers.