After a local and national search, the Board of Directors of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has selected Skye Schell as the new Executive Director. Schell is a Jackson resident with a decade of experience in conservation who has led the Alliance’s Civic Engagement program and Conservation Leadership Institute for three years, building a powerful base of community and political support for conservation.
“We are all obviously delighted to have Skye become the new Executive Director,” Alliance Chair David Hardie said of the hire. “The combination of his engaging personality and strategic thinking will benefit all of Jackson Hole—especially the wildlife around us—for years to come.”
Over the last three years, Schell taught four rounds of the Conservation Leadership Institute, organized a campaign for Safe Wildlife Crossings, and led a grassroots campaign advocating for downtown zoning that prioritized our middle class over more hotels.
Schell said, “I’m incredibly honored & excited to lead the Alliance in our next stage. I love Jackson Hole, I love being out on our wild lands with our wildlife, and I love coming home to this community of amazing people. I’m proud of our history as the organization that has stood up for Jackson for 38 years, stopping an endless line-up of bad ideas – everything from oil and gas drilling up Cache Creek to outlet malls in town. And I’ve seen the threats we face – from expanded highways causing ever-more wildlife collisions, to special interests who want to privatize or exploit our public lands – and know how important it is to have a strong Alliance.”
Schell’s love for wildlife and wild places began as a child learning about nature, fishing, and hunting from his parents and grandparents and in the Boy Scouts. “As I grew up in Virginia, I watched the devastation of unchecked suburban and commercial sprawl destroy our nearby forests and wildlife – and I will fight so that Jackson Hole can avoid a similar fate,” said Schell.
Schell attended college at Rice University in Houston and worked as a backpacking guide at the Boy Scouts’ Philmont high adventure base in northern New Mexico where he fell in love with the Rockies. He then worked in human services and housing back East: refugee resettlement in Virginia, advocacy in a soup kitchen, and finding permanent homes for people living on the streets of New York City. He says that work showed him that the only way to build a great community is to unite across sectors, and in his new role, he hopes to work with not only traditional conservationists, but with sportsmen, recreationists, housing advocates, and small business owners to make Jackson Hole a national model of a strong community living in balance with nature.
Before working for the Alliance, Schell spent six years working for two land trusts in Washington. He led community engagement projects with Tribes and rural communities on the Olympic Peninsula, smart growth policy advocacy to protect farmland in the suburbs, and community-based projects like new community gardens with refugee families. In this work, and by volunteering on political campaigns, Schell gained a wide range of experience with developing both good conservation policy and the necessary community support to pass it.
Schell served on the board of the Teton County Housing Authority and is a board member of housing advocacy group ShelterJH. When he isn’t at the Alliance, Schell can be found hiking, hunting, running, skiing, climbing, fishing, and enjoying our wild places with his dog Luna.
“I’m grateful to all our staff, board, and supporters for building the Alliance to where it is today, and am excited to lead the organization into the next level of effective and strategic conservation success,” Schell said. “You can expect the Alliance to continue to be a strong voice for our wildlife, wild places, and community – and to help you raise your voice, too. If you’re excited about the direction of the Alliance, I’d welcome your vote of confidence by becoming an Alliance member!”