Published: April 2, 2024
Sally Jewell

Growing the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders: A Student Conversation with Secretary Jewell

The Getches-Wilkinson Center and Wyss Scholars Program invited CU Law students to join Sally Jewell, former Secretary of the Interior during the Obama administration, for an interactive conversation on the future of conservation. In addition to her government experience, Secretary Jewell has held leadership roles with conservation-minded organizations across the for-profit (e.g., REI, Costco) and nonprofit realms (e.g., The Nature Conservancy, The Mountaineers). Secretary Jewell shared her views on how the government, nonprofit, and business sectors all have roles to play in shaping the future of the conservation movement, including opportunities she sees for students to maximize their impact. For the majority of the event, the format leaned toward the conversational, with Secretary Jewell responding to student questions.

Colorado Law is one of six leading institutions to host the Wyss Foundation Scholars Program which supports the graduate-level education of emerging leaders in U.S. land conservation by providing scholarships, mentorship, and community.

Tues, April 2nd 12-12:45pm
Room 307
This event is not open to the public and is intended for the CU Law student community.
Registration not required and lunch will be provided.


As a business executive and public servant serving as U.S. Secretary of the Interior under President Obama from 2013-17, Sally Jewell focused on supporting a robust economy coupled with long-term sustainability of our natural world and its diverse people.  During her tenure as Interior Secretary, she used a science-based, landscape-level, collaborative approach to natural resources management.  She was deeply engaged in rebuilding a trusting, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous communities in the U.S., supporting opportunities for greater engagement in public land stewardship and providing improved educational opportunities for native youth.  She worked with President Obama and his team on long-term conservation of our nation’s most vulnerable and irreplaceable natural, cultural, and historical treasures, protecting more lands and waters than any other U.S. president in history.  Working with industry, states, and the community, Jewell and her team also facilitated thoughtful development of renewable energy on public lands and waters, one of many steps taken to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Prior to serving on President Obama’s cabinet, Jewell was President and CEO of REI Co-op, a $3 billion retailer dedicated to facilitating outdoor adventures.  This followed 19 years in commercial banking and an early career as an engineer in the energy industry. 

Jewell served as the Fritzky Chair in Leadership at the University of Washington Foster School of Business in 2021-22, helping students and faculty in business and across the university explore opportunities to put their diverse skills to work in creating a sustainable future for our planet.  Her prior academic appointments have included the University of Washington College of the Environment and Harvard University’s J. F. Kennedy School of Government.

Jewell has received recognition for her community service through numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the University of Washington’s highest alumni honor, Alumna Summa Laude Dignata, the Director of the Year Award from the National Association of Corporate Directors for her non-profit service, and the Rachel Carson Award from the Audubon Society.  She continues active volunteer leadership in several organizations including The Nature Conservancy, for which she served as interim CEO for one year in 2019-20, the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth, EarthLab at the University of Washington, and others.  She also serves on several corporate boards, including Costco, Symetra, and Green Diamond Resources.

Jewell is deeply committed to sharing knowledge with emerging generations on the multiple facets of democracy and civil society needed to shape a future that is economically successful and environmentally sustainable.