Hilary Harp Falk

President and CEO

Headshot of Hilary Harp Faulk

Dave Harp

Hilary Harp Falk is President and CEO of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), leading the largest nonprofit conservation organization dedicated solely to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. She has spent her career building strong, authentic partnerships, and is a proven expert in large-scale ecosystem restoration and leading organizational change.

Falk’s national conservation leadership includes several executive roles at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) culminating in Chief Program Officer. She created and directed the Choose Clean Water Coalition, bringing together more than 200 advocacy organizations working together to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay. During her time at the Federation, she led programs including wildlife conservation, coastal resiliency, water policy, greenhouse gas reduction, and environmental education.

Throughout her career, Falk has championed women’s leadership and advancing equity in the conservation movement. She was a 2016-2017 fellow with the International Women's Forum and co-chaired the National Wildlife Federation’s Women in Conservation Leadership Advisory Council. She led the implementation of NWF’s foundational 2018 strategic plan and was a champion for a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

Falk began her career in environmental conservation as an intern with CBF in 1997. She earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science from Franklin and Marshall College and her Masters of Science in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. She holds an honorary degree as Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from Virginia Wesleyan University. Between her undergraduate and graduate studies, Falk returned to CBF and spent three years at the Port Isobel Island Education Center teaching students of all ages—children, teachers, farmers, and decision-makers—about the Bay and its ecologically sensitive island communities.

Falk’s commitment and passion for conservation stems from a childhood spent exploring the edges of the Chesapeake Bay with her father, a professional photographer. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband and two children.

Falk is CBF's third leader since the organization was chartered in 1967. It was first led by Arthur Sherwood. William C. Baker took the reins in 1981 and retired after 40 years at the end of 2021.

Hilary's Posts

  • In Pennsylvania, I See Hope for Our Environmental Future

    March 11, 2024

    Hope can be elusive in the world of environmental restoration. To move beyond the status quo, we need a paradigm shift. It might very well resemble some of the quietly momentous work underway in Pennsylvania.

  • Heart and Science: The Chesapeake Bay Needs Both

    December 5, 2023

    To succeed in the next chapter of bay-saving, we’re going to have to widen conservation’s historically narrow lens. We can’t focus so pointedly on trying to recreate the past that we neglect to build for the future—a future that recognizes that nature and human communities are intertwined.

  • Bringing Our Best to the Table

    October 13, 2023

    Change is a constant opportunity. The best laid plans will inevitably encounter wrenches. It’s how we react to them that matters.

  • Saving the Bay Means Creating a Future with and for People

    May 26, 2023

    What does it mean to save the Bay? To create a future in which humans and nature flourish together.

  • Our Watershed Teacher

    May 12, 2023

    CBF President & CEO Hilary Harp Falk reflects on the lessons she learned during her time as a CBF educator.

  • The Real Work of Clean Water

    October 18, 2022

    Fifty years after the passage of the landmark Clean Water Act, the restoration of rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters remains an ongoing and collective project.

  • An Open Letter on Holly Beach Farm

    October 12, 2022

    Honoring a property that deserves to be restored and conserved.

  • Eat Your Crabs, and Have Their Backs, Too

    June 10, 2022

    Blue crabs need our help and the most critical action we can take to help them is reducing the amount of pollution that flows into the bay.

  • Infrastructure That Works for the Bay and for the People

    June 3, 2022

    The announcement from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials, increasing federal funding for Chesapeake Bay restoration earlier this month is cause for celebration, and reason to take careful note of what works.

  • Funding Crucial for the Future of Clean Water in Pennsylvania

    May 20, 2022

    The commonwealth's legislature has a once in a lifetime opportunity to act on its clean water commitment by passing the proposed spending budget and legislation to provide investments for critical financial and technical resources to farmers and communities for clean water.

  • Seeing the Watershed Anew

    May 17, 2022

    CBF President and CEO Hilary Harp Falk shares a new look at Bay restoration after an insightful first few months on the job.

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