Policy News

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Names President and CEO: Kristen Sarri

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) Board of Trustees has announced that Kristen Sarri will join the organization as President and Chief Executive Officer on 24 October 2016.

Kristen Sarri joins the NMSF team after nearly 20 years in senior positions in Congress and federal agencies including the Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce and the Office of Management and Budget. While her experience is diverse, the consistent threads across all her roles are a deep involvement in shaping ocean and environmental issues, strong strategic and operational management skills, wide-ranging expertise in the legislative and regulatory sectors, a track record of success in engaging disparate stakeholders and – most of all – a passion for the ocean and the critical importance of sanctuaries in the ocean’s healthy future.

Sarri’s mandate is to set a transformational strategy for NMSF’s future. While that’s no simple task, she will be building it on an auspicious foundation. Among its accomplishments in the past six months, NMSF had its best-attended, most successful Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) conference and Ocean Awards Gala event; distributed its largest-ever pool of Hollings Grants funding; and launched a new digital presence including an online call-to-action advocacy tool to seamlessly rally public support of sanctuary priorities.

Reacting to her appointment, Ms. Sarri said, “The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is dedicated to conserving what we cannot see: critical habitats, cultural resources that tell our histories, living labs for science and education and significant natural resources that support coastal communities while connecting the public with the outdoors. We have an extraordinary opportunity to unite all those who would contribute to and benefit from this alliance – a potential partnership spanning policymakers, funders, communities, industries and other stakeholders, supported by our chapters, friends groups and all individuals passionate about the ocean.”

“Kris is a dynamic, highly respected leader in the ocean and conservation communities who will lead the Foundation to a new level of focus and impact in support of National Marine Sanctuaries,” noted Robert J. Trainor, Chair, NMSF Board of Trustees, who made the announcement. “In the past year, there has been unprecedented momentum around the role and reach of the National Marine Sanctuary System. In appointing Kris, the Foundation has added an accomplished leader enabling us to maximize our contribution to the ever increasing areas of our country that lay in and beneath the water. Her proven experience, skills and passion will be vital for the Foundation to expand its influence and contributions in support of these vital marine assets.”

In her new role, Sarri will provide strategic direction and oversight of the programmatic and financial operations of the 15-year-old organization, based in the Washington DC area.

Sarri’s career has been defined by her breadth and depth of experience around ocean and environmental issues; strategic, funding and operational management; extensive work in legislative and regulatory sectors; and a long history of engaging stakeholders.

Sarri joins NMSF from the Department of the Interior, where she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget since 2014. Leading the Office of Policy, Management and Budget, she was responsible for cross-cutting management and operations issues that directly impact the Department’s ability to fulfill its mission. Her policy work at the Department included Native Hawaiian relations; oceans and coasts issues; economic evaluations of public lands, Interior services and the outdoor economy; combating invasive species; and trade and tourism.

As Deputy Director of Policy and Strategic Planning, US Department of Commerce, Sarri was the Secretary’s principal advisor on oceans, fisheries, climate and energy issues, and policy liaison for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this position, she worked across the Administration, private sector, NGOs and academic community to inform Department policy formulation.

Previously, Sarri was Associate Director for Legislative Affairs, US Office of Management and Budget; on the Professional Staff of the Senate Commerce Committee with responsibility for the Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee; Senior Policy Advisor of the Office of Senator Jack Reed; and Legislative Director, Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition.

In addition to her policy experience, Sarri was Education Coordinator at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia, Africa and Wildlife Trade Program Associate at the Defenders of Wildlife. She received a B.A. in Biology from Washington University, St. Louis and an M.S. and M.P.H. from the University of Michigan. For more information, visit marinesanctuary.org.

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