Press Release

Earth Island Institute Names New Executive Director

Sumona Majumdar to lead the 40-year-old environmental organization’s next chapter in its fight to protect the planet and its inhabitants

Sumona Majumdar

Berkeley, CA (March 7, 2023) — In November 2022, the Earth Island Institute Board of Directors announced the beginning of an executive director search for the next leader of Earth Island Institute, a global organization that’s been at the forefront of the environmental movement for the past forty years. After an extensive search process, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Sumona Majumdar has been named as the organization’s new executive director. Majumdar will start on March 29, 2023.

Majumdar has been with Earth Island Institute as the organization’s general counsel for more than five years. During that time, she has led groundbreaking lawsuits against plastic producers, corporate greenwashing, and regulatory agencies. At Earth Island, she has handled internal legal, policy, and governance matters, and helped the organization advance its racial equity and inclusion goals, earning the respect and support of staff. Majumdar is a sought-after speaker on environmental litigation and using legal strategy to protect human health, the environment, and natural resources.

“I am thrilled and grateful for this opportunity to advance the critical work of Earth Island, and build on the legacy of environmental activism established by our founders,” stated Majumdar. “Now more than ever, we need to foster creative solutions, create space for the untold stories, and elevate the next generation of leaders. Together with the dedicated Earth Island community, and our many partners and supporters, we can achieve our vision of a more sustainable and just world.”

Majumdar holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, obtained a B.S. from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, and served as an Environment Sector Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. Prior to joining Earth Island, she spent seven years enforcing federal environmental laws as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice.

To assist in the search process, Earth Island hired Cook Silverman, an executive search firm servicing the northern California nonprofit community. The staff at Earth Island and other stakeholders were involved with providing feedback on the executive director role at key stages of the process.

As Earth Island enters its next phase, it will continue to face the political challenges of environmental and climate advocacy, combined with the need for progressive organizations to intersect on the issues of social justice and human rights.

The Earth Island Board of Directors expressed its confidence in Sumona’s ability to navigate the intricacies of the environmental movement and take Earth Island to the next level while maintaining and amplifying the success of its signature programs: fiscal sponsorship, legal advocacy, Earth Island Journal, and the New Leaders Initiative, which runs the national Brower Youth Awards.

“The entire board of directors would like to thank outgoing executive director Dave Phillips for his invaluable contributions to the establishment and growth of Earth Island Institute during his impressive 40-year tenure,” said Francisco Martinez, board vice president and chair of its succession committee. “While Dave leaves an enviable legacy behind, we are extremely excited for Sumona’s leadership and what she will bring to the role and the organization,” he said.

Majumdar will take over from Dave Phillips, who announced last fall that he would be stepping down after 40 years at the helm of the organization. Phillips will remain a part of the organization as he continues his role as executive director of the International Marine Mammal Project, which has been a fiscally sponsored project at the organization since 1982. He will also serve in an advisory capacity for a period of time while the new executive director is onboarded.

Earth Island Institute is an international environmental organization and fiscal sponsor to more than seventy-five projects working in the areas of conservation, wildlife protection, climate change solutions, women’s environmental leadership, Indigenous communities, sustainable agriculture and food systems, community resilience, environmental justice, and more. The organization also includes a legal division, Earth Island Advocates; a youth leadership program, New Leaders Initiative; and an award-winning magazine, Earth Island Journal. Founded in 1982 by legendary environmentalist David Brower, Earth Island Institute is one of the leading environmental activist organizations in the United States.


Earth Island Institute Communications Director Sharon Donovan
(510) 859-9161,