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May 12, 2021
 
Union of Concerned Scientists Names Kreilick as President
Johanna Chao Kreilick
Johanna Chao Kreilick

April 10, 2021 — The Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that advocates for solutions to pressing environmental and social problems, this week announced that it named Johanna Chao Kreilick as its next president.

Kreilick, an executive officer at the Open Society Foundations, will assume her new duties on May 10. She will take over from Kathleen Rest, executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), who has been serving as interim president after Ken Kimmell stepped at the end of 2020 after serving as president for six years.

“For three decades, Johanna Chao Kreilick has been a passionate driver of social change,” said Anne Kapuscinski, UCS board chair. “We were particularly impressed with her track record of integrating racial justice into the work and culture of complex organizations, her understanding of the role of science in effective decision making, and her ability to work with teams of researchers and advocates to advance policies that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Most recently, Kreilick managed the Open Society Foundations’ strategy unit responsible for planning, research, and assessment for the foundations’ 50 global programs, national foundations, and advocacy offices.

While at Open Society, she founded the $43 million Climate Action Initiative. The U.S. component includes support for nonpartisan public mobilization and policy advocacy at city, state, regional and federal levels, as well as shareholder advocacy and litigation aimed at corporate polluters.

Prior to joining Open Society in 2013, she created and led a justice and human rights program at the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University. She previously launched and led an economic justice grant-making program at the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, supporting informal workers’ movements globally, and organized within the Asian and Pacific Islander immigrant community to advance rights-respecting economic and health policy.

“Climate justice, democracy, security and science are deeply intertwined and urgent matters of both domestic and foreign policy,” said Kreilick. “I look forward to building on the strengths of the Union of Concerned Scientists in rigorous analysis and leading science advocacy as we steer into the headwinds of an escalating climate crisis, a racial justice reckoning and a polarized political landscape illuminated by a growing public appreciation for the vital role of facts in the health of democracy.”

Kreilick earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from Stanford University and a Master of Public Administration degree in nonprofit administration, negotiation, and public policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

When he announced his resignation, Kimmell said, “All across the country, leaders of organizations are stepping down to create opportunities for new and diverse leaders to take their place. This is a positive trend. We are at an inflection point in our nation’s history with respect to racial equity, and my commitment to dismantling racism at UCS and across the country is best served by my stepping down to make way for a new leader.

“As a former government official, watching the destruction of our democratic institutions and loss of scientific capacity at the federal level over the last four years has been deeply troubling. I feel called to return to public service and use my governmental and legal expertise to help rebuild and revitalize government.”

Kapuscinski lauded Kimmell, in part, for building UCS from a $24 million organization to more than $40 million currently.

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