Rodger O. Schlickeisen holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a Ph.D. in finance from George Washington University. After completing his formal education, he served stints as chief of staff to Democratic U.S. Senator Max Baucus; associate director of the U.S. Office of Management & Budget during President Jimmy Carter‘s administration; and chief executive officer of Craver, Mathews, Smith & Company, a consulting firm for progressive advocacy organizations.
Schlickeisen then went on to serve as the president of Defenders of Wildlife (DOW) from 1991 through October 2011, during which time DOW’s membership rolls grew from 62,000 to more than one million, making it one of America’s most prominent conservation advocacy groups. Schlickeisen was also president of the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, a political nonprofit dedicated to promoting the election of pro-conservation candidates to political office.
In October 2004, Schlickeisen characterized George W. Bush as “the most anti-wildlife president ever.” “Wolf recovery in parts of America, no thanks to this administration, represents one of the great success stories of wildlife conservation in this country,” said Schlickeisen. “President Bush’s Department of the Interior is proposing to remove endangered species protections that the wolf needs to continue to survive…. Wolves have suffered from unjust persecution for centuries, but the real ‘wolf at their door’ right now, is the Bush presidential campaign which threatens four more years of anti-wildlife policies.”
In the wake of Bush’s reelection to the White House the following month, Schlickeisen said: “The President’s first term in office certainly proved disastrous for our environment. But the election results should not be seen as a vote of confidence from the American people in the President’s environmental policies. Polls consistently show large, bipartisan majorities of Americans disapprove of this [P]resident’s treatment of our land, air, water and wildlife during his first term…. At Defenders, we have fought a three-year battle to blunt a string of radical environmental attacks by this administration and we’re not about to stop now.”
In September 2008, Schlickeisen and the DOW Action Fund officially endorsed the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, explaining that Republican nominee “John McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate confirmed that the only candidates we can truly count on to protect our air, land and water are Senators Obama and Biden.” Describing McCain’s record on environmental issues as “mediocre at best,” Schlickeisen emphasized that it was the Palin pick that ultimately cemented DOW’s endorsement: “When McCain picked the notoriously anti-environmental Palin, he surrendered any reasonable argument that his administration would make finding real solutions to our nation’s serious energy, conservation and environmental problems a priority. The McCain-Palin ticket is now the overwhelming preference of big oil companies that have made billions in profits, while average Americans struggle to fill their tanks.”
In November 2014, Schlickeisen praised President Obama for having taken a series of administrative actions aimed at combating anthropogenic climate change: “It’s an amazing turnaround, what he’s done. It’s not the same as getting legislation [passed]. It’s not getting a new treaty ratified. But within the limits that he has to use executive power, I think it’s very impressive.”
Today Schlickeisen is DOW’s president emeritus. In addition to his work with DOW, he has also served variously as vice chairman of the national League of Conservation Voters; founding chair of the Partnership Project, a nonprofit group that aimed to help build a more unified and effective national environmental movement; and an advisory committee member with the Earth Communications Organization and the Environmental Media Association.
Moreover, Schlickeisen has authored numerous published opinion pieces, including an influential law review article on the need for a constitutional amendment to protect the natural environment for future generations.
Further Reading: “Rodger Schlickeisen” (Endangered Species Coalition, SourceWatch.org); “Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Reacts to Bush-Cheney Political Campaign Ad ‘Wolves’” (10-23-2004); “Statement of [DOW] President Rodger Schlickeisen on the Re-election of President Bush” (11-2-2004); “Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Endorses Obama-Biden Ticket” (Grist.org, 9-13-2008); “The Greening of Barack Obama” (Politico, 11-18-2014).