Announcement: Resources Legacy Fund Welcomes Avi Garbow as New President

Resources Legacy Fund is pleased and proud to welcome Avi Garbow as its new president. Garbow is a nationally recognized environmental leader, lawyer, and advocate with decades of experience tackling many of the most critical threats to our air, water, and lands.

He takes over from Michael Mantell, who founded RLF more than 20 years ago. Most recently, Garbow served as Patagonia’s first Environmental Advocate, providing strategic leadership and vision to the company’s robust environmental advocacy efforts. He took on a temporary assignment in the Biden administration, as senior counselor to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he helped reverse damaging actions taken by the prior administration and emboldened a shift toward environmental justice in policy decisions.

“I am honored to bring my experience and passion to the powerful, multidimensional platform RLF has built,” said Garbow. “I’m eager to start working with RLF’s team, funders, grantees, and partners—Fund for a Better Future and Shared Ascent Fund—adding to the momentum they have built addressing the climate crisis and social inequities. Through this kind of intentional coalition-building work, we can start reversing the devastating impacts of climate change, environmental racism, health care discrimination, and economic oppression that are taking such an immense toll on people now, and even more so for future generations.”

Garbow played significant roles in advancing environmental justice at the EPA over two decades, including as the longest-serving general counsel to the EPA in the Obama administration, where he advanced the agency’s framework for Tribal consultation and helped ensure that Tribal treaty rights are honored in EPA rulemaking. In the private sector, he helped lead the environmental practice of a major international law firm.

”We conducted a rigorous national executive search process and vetted dozens of talented candidates,” said Martha Kongsgaard, who chaired the search committee of the RLF Board of Directors. “Avi’s extensive and successful credentials in the public and private sectors are impressive. But it is his authenticity and his commitment to our cause, the relationships RLF has built, and the pursuit of environmental justice that will ensure RLF’s continued effectiveness tackling new and ongoing challenges with fresh, innovative approaches, along with that of its affiliates, the Fund for a Better Future and Shared Ascent Fund.”

Created in 2000, RLF builds alliances that advance bold solutions to secure a just and resilient world for people and nature. It partners with philanthropy, government, and community leaders to support and invest in organizations, programs, and campaigns that accelerate change on the nation’s, and the world’s, most intractable issues: climate change, clean drinking water, equitable parks access, ocean protection, watershed health, and sustainable fisheries.

Some of RLF’s accomplishments, working closely with its partners, include protecting more than five million acres of critical habitat from Mexico to Canada; generating more than $30 billion in public funds for the environment, climate resilience, and healthy communities; and protecting nearly 17 percent of California’s offshore waters. It has led the way in bringing Tribal interests and those of underserved communities to the forefront of environmental policy, funding and actions.

Garbow is based in Washington, D.C., but plans to spend roughly half his time in California. “While the roots and heartbeat of RLF will remain in California,” said Garbow, “I hope that my experience with and proximity to political leaders, policy advocates, and problem-solvers in D.C. will enable the organization to have even greater impact in all the geographies it works in, and also in new areas.” 

“When we started this work in California 20-plus years ago, we had a vision to do much more than conventional environmental work; we wanted to help create new policies, public funding and approaches in ways that diversified and broadened the groups and communities engaged,” said Mantell. “I’m proud of our achievements and how we’ve expanded in geography and scope to create significant, lasting outcomes in ways that advance the needs and interests of underserved communities and Indigenous peoples. Avi is uniquely qualified to tackle the challenges of the day with a fresh, holistic approach; collaborate across sectors and build diverse coalitions that disrupt the status quo; and center equity in all solutions.” 

Garbow is expected to assume his new role on January 10, 2022. He will also lead RLF’s affiliated organizations, Fund for a Better Future and Shared Ascent Fund, which focus on advancing a healthy democracy and racial, economic, and gender equity.