Emily Norton Is New Exec. Dir. of Charles River Watershed Assn.

Emily Norton
August 25, 2018 — The Charles River Watershed Association, based in Weston, a nonprofit that works to protect and restore the Charles River and its watershed through science, advocacy, and the law, recently named Emily Norton as its executive director.

Norton, currently director of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Sierra Club, succeeds Bob Zimmerman, who retired in July after serving as executive director of Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) for 28 years.

“Emily has the perfect set of skills to lead CRWA’s mission to protect, preserve and enhance the Charles River and its watershed,” said Zimmerman. “She will not only strengthen CRWA’s voice but will also broaden its role in this critical time for the environment and climate change.”

Norton has experience in both politics and environmental advocacy. Prior to joining the Sierra Club, she worked as a research and communications consultant to the Conservation Law Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the US EPA Energy Star Program.

At the Sierra Club, Norton led lobbying efforts for stronger policies and laws on clean energy, electrification of transportation, reducing plastic pollution, protecting water quality, and reducing toxics.

Under her leadership the Massachusetts membership grew 24% and the budget more than doubled as the chapter played a leadership role in fighting gas pipelines and promoting legislation to reduce barriers to solar energy and to increase offshore wind and electric vehicles.

“I’m an organizer at heart,” Norton said. “We get much more accomplished when we work together with allies who share our values and our passion for clean water, healthy communities and a sustainable environment.”

Norton said she intends to make CRWA more of a resource for the 35 Greater Boston communities that make up the Charles River watershed served by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority around innovations that champion green infrastructure and mitigate climate change.

She also plans to unite with other area watershed associations to lobby Beacon Hill on environmental issues and to raise the profile and expertise of the organization as a whole.

Norton also is an elected city councilor in Newton where helped introduce a citywide ban on plastic bags, restricted the use of polluting leaf blowers, created more affordable housing by making it easier to build accessory apartments, and ensured that firefighters and police carry Narcan spent.

She also serves on the Mass. Municipal Association Environmental Policy Committee, and earlier serve. several years as a fundraiser for the Democratic Leadership Council in Washington, D.C.

Norton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

For the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, the Charles River Watershed Association reported $2.6 million in revenue, all of which came from contributions and grants, and $1.3 million in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.