WASHINGTON, D.C. - Kathryn Fuller will step down from her post as president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund before the U.S. arm of the WWF global conservation network ends its current fiscal year in June. Her announcement comes as the organization shapes a new long-term strategic plan to build on conservation and institutional successes achieved under Fuller's nearly 16-year tenure at the helm.
"I firmly believe that change is good for institutions and individuals, and this seems the right time for mine," Fuller wrote in a memo announcing her departure plans to WWF staff. "WWF is asking the right tough questions as we frame ambitious, new ten-year conservation goals. We are poised to deliver lasting results for globally outstanding habitats and species and have strong, engaged leadership from our board and staff."
"Kathryn Fuller has led World Wildlife Fund with great distinction during a time when international conservation emerged as one of the premiere issues of our day," said WWF Board Chairman William K. Reilly. "Whether speaking to prime ministers, business directors, nongovernmental leaders or indigenous people, Kathryn has been tireless and skillful in advancing the protection of wildlife and wild places around the world. While there is never a good time for someone of her stature to leave an organization, Kathryn will leave WWF as strong and effective as it has ever been."
Under Fuller's leadership, WWF-US burnished its credentials as an integral part of a global network uniquely capable of effective action from the local to the international level. WWF's work spans the spectrum from articulating science-based conservation visions and engaging communities on the ground to shaping government and private sector policies to benefit conservation of the natural world.
Among WWF's recent conservation milestones is the development of The Global 200, a scientific blueprint for saving the most important reservoirs of the Earth's biodiversity, now used widely by decision makers around the world. In Africa, WWF played a key role in forging the government, aid agency and nongovernmental collaboration that produced the groundbreaking Yaounde summit and plan that has safeguarded vast areas of the Congo Basin. In Brazil, WWF has been instrumental in articulating a ten-year vision for the Amazon in partnership with the government of Brazil, the World Bank, and others. The Amazon Region Protected Areas Program (ARPA) initiative is the most ambitious forest conservation program ever and has already resulted in the establishment of Tumucumaque, the world's largest tropical forest park.
"The WWF Board is putting together a transition process to ensure that we find a successor to Kathryn who can bring an equal measure of vision and energy to addressing conservation challenges across this good earth," said Board Chairman Reilly.
Kathryn Fuller took the helm of the World Wildlife Fund and The Conservation Foundation in 1989 and saw the organizations through their merger in 1990. She joined WWF in 1983, serving as director of its wildlife trade unit, director of public policy, general counsel and executive vice president before rising to lead the organization
"To steal a line from a colleague, no matter what I ultimately do, I will always wear the panda," Fuller said.