New Executive Director Joins Environmental Defense Center
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Santa Barbara, CA – The Environmental Defense Center (EDC) – one of the nation’s longest-running public interest law firms working to protect the California coast, natural resources, and the earth’s climate – today announced that Alex Katz will join this month as the organization’s new Executive Director.
Alex brings 25 years of experience in public service and communications to the fight for environmental protection. He is deeply committed to climate action, conservation, and justice for communities that are disproportionately harmed by the fossil fuel industry and other sources of pollution.
“We are thrilled to welcome Alex to EDC,” Chief Counsel Linda Krop said. “He has been an innovative leader on environmental issues in California and will be a strong advocate for our mission to protect California’s South Central Coast, preserve our open space and wildlife, and address the climate crisis.”
Alex has held leadership roles at every level of government in California, including Chief of Staff of the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, where he helped to initiate Oakland’s groundbreaking lawsuit against major oil companies to hold them accountable for the costs of adapting to sea level rise. Alex also served as a communications and climate policy aide to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and last year completed UC Berkeley’s Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program.
“I look forward to working with Alex to continue and expand EDC’s impact,” said EDC Board President Rob Tadlock. “For the last 45 years, EDC has been the indispensable advocate for our local environment and communities. As the climate crisis intensifies, the threats to the ocean, clean water, and life on the South Central Coast are greater now than ever. EDC will continue to face those threats head on as we move into the next phase of our history as a fierce defender of local communities and our natural environment.”
Former EDC Executive Director, Owen Bailey, an inspirational leader and environmental champion, served in that role for more than nine years. Sadly, Owen passed away last year after a long battle with cancer. The organization has been without a full-time executive director since then. Alex will be joining a strong and dedicated staff of ten members and two year-long legal fellows.
Started almost 50 years ago in response to the devastating Santa Barbara oil spill, EDC has a track record of winning significant cases against powerful interests, including a case that resulted in a ban on fracking and acidizing from all West Coast offshore oil platforms, and a recent settlement that stopped the City of Lompoc from discharging contaminated waste water into local waterways. The nonprofit organization works to ensure a voice for those who care about the California Coast, the Santa Barbara Channel, and the environmental health of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. As a nonprofit law firm, EDC provides free and low-cost legal services to other nonprofit community groups and has represented nearly 140 organizations throughout its history.