Columbia Riverkeeper Names Goldberg New Executive Director

Columbia Riverkeeper’s Board of Directors has unanimously named Lauren Goldberg the organization’s new Executive Director starting August 1, replacing Brett VandenHeuvel.

The organization said in a press release that “over the last two decades, the $3.5M organization has grown ten-fold while defeating over a dozen new fossil fuel terminals, reducing toxic pollution, and protecting salmon.”

“Columbia Riverkeeper has never been stronger—and the stakes have never been higher. I’m honored to continue the fight for clean water and our climate,” stated Goldberg.

VandenHeuvel, who has led the organization since 2009, will step down on August 1 to start a national consulting practice focused on climate and clean water strategies. He will join Columbia Riverkeeper’s board of directors.

“It has been a privilege to work shoulder to shoulder with amazing coworkers and partners,” stated VandenHeuvel. “I know that Riverkeeper’s future is bright with Lauren at the helm.” 

“Under Brett’s leadership, Columbia Riverkeeper has been an important voice in advancing environmental protections in Washington,” said Laura Watson, director of the Washington State Department of Ecology. “I know that Lauren Goldberg will carry on that legacy as we continue the critical work to protect and restore the Columbia.”

Goldberg joined Columbia Riverkeeper in 2006 as a law clerk, became a staff attorney in 2008, and served as the legal and program director since 2016. She graduated cum laude from Lewis and Clark Law School with a certificate in Environmental Law. As Executive Director, Goldberg will oversee all aspects of the organization’s legal and policy work, operations, and development.

“Lauren Goldberg has worked in solidarity with Yakama Nation for over a decade. She’s been there to help fight against coal and oil trains, clean up toxic pollution, and protect sacred sites. Lauren will be a great leader for Columbia Riverkeeper,” said Davis Washines, Government Relations Liaison for Yakama Nation Fisheries.

“Lauren has built strong relationships throughout our region. Ten years ago, she supported the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in pushing Oregon to pass the nation’s strongest limits on toxic pollution. Ever since she has been a trusted ally for protecting clean water, cleaning up nuclear waste, and restoring salmon runs,“ said Don Sampson, Executive Director, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“While Brett is a hard act to follow, Lauren Goldberg is an excellent choice to lead Columbia Riverkeeper,” stated Melissa Powers, Professor, Lewis and Clark Law School. “Lauren is a natural leader and one of the most strategic legal thinkers I know. We are all lucky that Columbia Riverkeeper is going to be in such capable and skilled hands.”

“Columbia Riverkeeper is one of the most effective groups in the nation, and I am delighted that Lauren will lead the amazing Riverkeeper team,” said Kristen Boyles, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice Northwest Office. “I’ve seen Lauren’s innovative strategy and thoughtful engagement with communities earn admiration and respect throughout the Pacific Northwest.”

Columbia Riverkeeper says it uses legal advocacy and community organizing to stop pollution, fight fossil fuels, save salmon, engage communities, and clean up the Hanford Nuclear Site. The non-profit organization has offices in Hood River and Portland, Oregon, and works throughout the Columbia River Basin. 

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