Rhea Suh, who was the past president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) from 2015 to 2019, has been hired as the president and CEO of the Marin Community Foundation (MCF). Dr. Thomas Peters, MCF’s longstanding president, announced his retirement in June 2020. Suh was selected in June of 2021 and will assume the position on Sept. 7, 2021.
According to the MCF’s press releases, Suh was born and raised in Boulder, Colo., by Korean immigrants who left the country after the Korean War. Suh’s father, Chung Ha Suh, worked as automotive engineering specialist at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and her mother, Young Ja Suh, was a homemaker. She also has two sisters, Betty and Maggie.
Suh graduated with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Barnard College of Columbia University in 1992. While a student at Barnard, Suh taught earth science at Stuyvesant High School. After receiving a Fulbright fellowship to South Korea where she studied environmental movements, she attended Harvard Kennedy School and earned a master’s degree in education, administration, planning, and social policy. Her graduate school project focused on helping the U.S. National Park Service by establishing a formal education program at schools around the country.
Suh served as the assistant secretary for policy, management, and budget at the U.S. Department of the Interior from 2009 to 2014. She was nominated for this position by former President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2009.
She successfully developed a diversity program for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and guided the Administration’s successful effort to have the Native Hawaiian community become a federally recognized tribe. This allows them to have a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Suh also worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation where she developed a $200 million program dedicated to environmental conservation and clean energy in the West and helped to establish the first-ever collaboration among nonprofit organizations to coordinate conservation efforts across the Colorado River Basin.
Rhea was the president of the NRDC from 2015 to 2019. The organization grew to more than $50 million and increased its membership by more than 40%. She led nearly 500 scientists, attorneys, and policy experts and made NRDC one of the country’s most effective environmental action organizations. She led the creation of a 10-year strategic plan, reorganized the NRDC, helped steer the discussions that led to the historic global climate agreement in Paris.
Suh championed the settlement for the residents of Flint, Mich., regarding the drinking water crisis.
Suh spoke at the 2017 Women’s March on Wash., D.C., and has also appeared as a media commentator for the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, NPR, and other news outlets.
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