Friends of the San Juans welcomes new executive director

  • Fri Aug 28th, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by Friends of the San Juans

Friends of the San Juans is pleased to welcome R. Brent Lyles as incoming Executive Director. He will begin his tenure on September 16 and will lead the 40-year-old organization in its longstanding mission — to protect and restore the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature.

Brent comes to Friends with over 20 years of experience leading environmental protection and education efforts, most recently consulting with nonprofit organizations in Austin, Texas. Prior to consulting, he successfully led two Texas river conservation organizations, the Colorado River Alliance and Austin Youth River Watch. Both were instrumental in improving water quality, riverbank restoration, and land-use practices to benefit the watersheds. He has also served on the boards of Leadership Austin, EarthShare of Texas, and the American Genre Film Archive.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lyles grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Michigan. He earned graduate degrees from Yale University and the University of Pittsburgh in physical anthropology and nonprofit management, respectively, and has trained extensively in inclusive and ethical leadership. When not at work, Lyles can be found hiking with his family, playing nerdy board games, or strumming a guitar.

“Brent Lyles is uniquely qualified to lead Friends in protecting the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea,” said Janet Alderton, board president. “In both regions, water is life, and the universal wisdom of this guides us in our efforts to protect both the fresh and marine waters upon which people and nature depend.”

“My first visit to the San Juan Islands was a little over ten years ago, and of course I fell in love with them immediately,” says Lyles. “My wife used to live here, and we’ve been coming back regularly ever since.”

“I was looking for an opportunity to do meaningful, authentic work that makes the connection between environmental protection and social issues, and was drawn to Friends. The organization has a terrific, smart, and passionate team in place, on both staff and board, and the work has never been more urgent or important.”

Lyles continued, “As we move forward, we’ll be identifying and focusing on the most pressing issues for the long-term health of the Salish Sea and the San Juan Islands’ community. My approach is to do that in a way that’s inclusive, respectful, and impactful, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Friends will be hosting virtual meet-and-greets with Lyles over the next two months. Please check sanjuans.org/upcoming-events for more information.

About Friends of the San Juans

Friends of the San Juans is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea for people and nature. Founded in 1979, the organization has become a leading proponent of safe shipping, clean water, healthy forests and farmlands, natural beaches and resilient communities. Through innovative programs, Friends harnesses science, education, and legal advocacy to help protect what you love about the San Juan Islands and the Salish Sea.