The CEO of a major environmental activism organization is leaving her role following several reports that she created a “culture of fear” within the workplace, according to Politico.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, announced Monday that she will be leaving the top job next year, according to Politico. Reports have circulated in recent months suggesting that the organization had developed a toxic workplace environment in which employees felt they could not question leadership and worried that they could be fired at a moment’s notice.
Defenders of Wildlife laid off 14 staffers earlier in 2023, pointing to the overall “economic and social climate,” according to Politico. Anonymous staffers previously told Politico that they blame Clark for overseeing a “culture of fear,” in which even minor disagreements or criticisms of senior management’s decisions could lead to being fired almost immediately. The dynamic made working for the organization a “nightmare” for many younger and more left-wing staffers, according to Politico.
President Trump will reportedly visit the Lower Rio Grande Valley this week to promote the #BorderWall, in the middle of congressional action to impeach him. Border communities rightly see his trip as an immediate threat to community safety & security. https://t.co/is0bovgRG0 pic.twitter.com/5i4IYmye9H
— Defenders of Wildlife (@Defenders) January 12, 2021
The divide at Defenders of Wildlife aligns with a wider, recent trend in the environmentalist nonprofit world, which has seen a wave of unionization as younger staffers have pushed for major changes to how business is conducted in the wake of the pandemic and 2020’s focus on racial issues, according to Politico.
Clark was among the highest-paid executives of national environmentalist groups, raking in just under $600,000 in salary and other benefits in 2022, according to the organization’s tax filings from that year. Before beginning to work for Defenders of Wildlife, she headed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Clinton administration.
Under Clark’s watch, the organization postured as a staunch critic of the Trump administration’s energy and environmental policies, involving itself in numerous lawsuits to obstruct the administration’s moves to facilitate development by reducing the scope of regulations or by other means.
She will stay in the post as the organization’s board of directors look for her replacement, according to Politico.
“I have dedicated my career to conservation and believe at this point in my life that I can have a greater impact for wildlife by applying my passion, knowledge and expertise in a different way,” Clark said in a statement shared with Politico. “I look forward to focusing my time and energy more directly on pressing conservation challenges impacting imperiled species and important landscapes and helping foster the next generation of wildlife conservationists.”
Defenders of Wildlife did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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