Founders Award for Civic Leadership
Senior Fellow of the World Wildlife Fund, for his continued dedication and passion in support of conservation of our country’s natural resources and in promoting access to clean water in the developing world.
Gordon Binder has focused his work on the environment, both the built and the natural worlds, through a variety of means from policy analysis to environment-related investment, program development, international diplomacy and communications. With a lifetime of achievements behind him, Binder’s dedication to the conservation of our world’s natural resources and to sustainable solutions for some of the most pressing problems that affect the future of this planet has secured his place as a key force of change.
Binder’s career has been focused around one of the major platforms upon which this future rests- the policy and planning that arises from our nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. Binder has navigated his way through diverse public, private and governmental organizations to contribute his skills and talents towards a variety of environmental causes. After graduating with a Masters in Architecture from University of Michigan in 1972, his career in land use policy took off when he joined the team working with the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth.
His involvement in this field continued to grow in scope as he served as a Loeb Fellow in Advanced Environmental Studies at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and as he moved through positions at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Federal Architecture Project and the Conservation Foundation, which merged with the World Wildlife Fund in 1985, and for which he served as Assistant to President William Reilly. Within this relationship, Binder’s responsibilities cut across program and departmental lines, including virtually all aspects of the operation of these two organizations, with annual budgets of $35 million, 200 staff members, operations and projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and a membership of 600,000.
When William Reilly was appointed Administrator of EPA by President George H.W. Bush, Binder joined his long term associate as his Chief of Staff and provided advice and counsel to Reilly on policy, planning, legislative, political and administrative matters; represented him at all levels of government, including federal, state and municipal; and served as a confidential liaison for him with staff of the White House, Cabinet Members, and top officials of other government agencies. In one interview, Reilly called Binder the “unsung hero to [his] administration.”
Following his tenure at EPA, Binder continued to pursue his environmental dedication through positions with the National Geographic Society, where he helped expand their environmental activities; the Aspen Institute’s Congressional International Programs, for which he organized eight conferences on international environmental issues; the American Farmland Trust, where he worked on a program to protect agricultural lands in rapidly growing communities; and in a continued role at the World Wildlife Fund as a Senior Fellow, analyst and writer, authoring numerous issues of WWF’s bimonthly publication Conservation Issues and editing multiple editions of their Environment Strategy America.
In his Senior Fellow position, Binder has been working on environmental policy projects involving analysis and writing on such diverse topics as protecting biological diversity in Russia, resolving environmental disputes in Latin America, conservation and values, endocrine disruptors, population and conservation, and trade and the environment. From 1997 to October of 2007, he continued his association with William Reilly through AQUA International Partners, a private equity investment fund dedicated to renewable resources, chiefly water and energy, and he also assists Reilly in his co-chairmanship of the National Commission on Energy Policy.
In addition to these recent and ongoing positions, Binder consults Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions on program initiatives in water and other topics, and is working to establish the Global Water Challenge, an organization dedicated to expanding coverage for drinking water and sanitation in the developing world. He has also been involved in local land use issues, including serving as advisor to the National Coalition to Save Our Mall.
With over 20 publications to his name and a lifetime dedicated to improving both the internal administration and external programming and analysis of organizations working on environmental issues, Binder’s investment in the future of our country and our world, has been a constant and effective agent of change.