Michael Brune Stepping Down as Sierra Club Executive Director


Oakland, CA -- Today, the Sierra Club Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Michael Brune from his position as Executive Director of the Sierra Club after 11 years at the helm of the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization.  Brune’s resignation will be effective at the end of the year, but he will be focusing on supporting the incoming Acting Executive Director to ensure a smooth transition.

Dan Chu, current Executive Director of the Sierra Club Foundation and longtime leader at the organization, will step into the role of Acting Executive Director immediately, in partnership with Eva Hernandez-Simmons, also a longtime Sierra Club leader and organizer, who will step into the role of Managing Director.

Statement from Ramon Cruz, President of the Sierra Club Board of Directors:

"The Board of Directors and I want to express our appreciation to Mike Brune for his years of service to the Sierra Club and the environmental movement. He has been instrumental to many of our successes in the last decade. We wish him and his family the very best. I want to thank Dan Chu and Eva Hernandez-Simmons for stepping into the roles of Acting Executive Director and Managing Director of Sierra Club, as we work to launch a national search for the next Executive Director in 2022.

We are incredibly proud of what the Sierra Club community has accomplished together over the past decade and look forward to continuing to lead on the efforts for climate action, protection of public lands, and other critical issues. We are especially proud of the progress that we have made to make environmental and racial justice central pillars for our organization and for the broader movement. That evolution is just beginning and we are committed to partnering more closely and listening more deeply to the communities that have suffered the most from systemic racism and exploitation.

As has been said, the Sierra Club is a 129-year-old organization with a complex history, some of which has contributed to and certainly reflected those systems of oppression. While we have made major strides over the past decade in reckoning with and addressing these issues, we still have a very long journey ahead of us to become the anti-racist organization we need to be, and the Board of Directors are committed to fixing the internal systems and structures that have allowed harm.

While these leadership changes evolve, it’s important to remember that the Sierra Club’s power has never been held in any single position or area of leadership. It’s in the collective changemaking that millions of members, staff, volunteers, donors, and activists can accomplish when they come together to bring about a more just and healthy world for all, and we will and must continue that work."

A statement from Michael Brune, outgoing Executive Director:

"The recent UN Climate report is yet another stark reminder about the urgency of our struggle and the imperative that we must all play a part in climate action. My role in our movement is shifting, but my commitment to the work remains steadfast. I thank the Sierra Club for more than a decade of leading this remarkable organization, and I wish success to the Sierra Club and all in our movement in the fight for climate justice.

It has been the honor of my professional career to lead this great organization over the past decade. Sierra Club’s volunteers, staff and allies have stopped the rush to build hundreds of new coal plants while securing the retirement of two-thirds of America’s existing coal fleet, saving tens of thousands of lives and improving the lives of millions. Together, we have also helped to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline not once, but two times, protecting drinking water and sacred tribal lands. We’ve helped build a vibrant coalition that has supported 180 cities and several states to commit to a transition to 100% clean, renewable energy that will cut pollution and improve the health of communities nationwide. We’ve helped protect millions of acres from coast to coast, shut down gas plants, helped get millions of people into the outdoors, defeated a toxic and racist President, and so much more.

I came to the Sierra Club as the organization was marking its 118th anniversary. It’s extraordinary for such a storied legacy institution to still have the burning desire and capacity to transform itself. I was grateful to have been able to help organize and participate in the Sierra Club’s first civil disobedience, to support our volunteers and staff to expand our work to include robust campaigns against all fossil fuels, and to join so many others in an ambitious and inclusive climate agenda that influenced the most powerful political figures in the world.

That transformation is not yet complete and I regret that I was not able to do more. The traditional systems of power that have made the Sierra Club one of the most powerful environmental groups in the country are barriers to the transformational change we need in our society. Within the Sierra Club, many members of our community, especially Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color staff and volunteers, have called for significant changes in the organization, often at great personal risk.

As with other legacy institutions across our society, the challenges of transforming this organization are immense. We are not the organization we were ten years ago, with fundamental changes in how we fundraise for allies, how we participate in coalitions, how we budget and how we share power. Nevertheless, those changes and many others haven’t been sufficient, and haven’t happened at the pace or scale required. Along with our Board of Directors, I bear the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that our staff and volunteers feel safe, supported and valued, and I sincerely apologize for any instance in which this was not the case. The cultural transformation and fight for justice inside the Sierra Club mirrors our work externally. We cannot realize our mission or goals externally if we are not living our values and empowering all of our people internally.  The one makes the other possible.

The next generation of leadership will bring great things to the Sierra Club. I am confident in the future of the Sierra Club and the broader movement for climate action, environmental and racial justice, democracy, and a better world.”

Joint Statement from Dan Chu, Sierra Club Foundation Executive Director and Sierra Club Acting Executive Director and Eva Hernandez-Simmons, Sierra Club Managing Director

"We’re honored to help lead this powerful collective of grassroots changemakers in the next step of the Sierra Club’s transformation, as we continue to together reshape the organization in service of its mission, its values, and its commitment to equity.

We look forward to working with senior managers, staff, union leadership, Chapter leaders, and the Sierra Club and Sierra Club Foundation boards of directors in the coming months as they advance a powerful new vision for the Sierra Club and deepen its leadership teams. Leadership teams that will solidify a sense of collective purpose, collaboration, and shared accountability across staff, volunteers, and partners, so that we make real the purpose that drives us: that progress happens when we are powerful together.

Our movement will continue to fight for an equitable world powered by 100 percent clean energy, centering those most affected by the climate crisis as we continue to fight for climate justice. Together, we can work for the world as it should be and help ensure a healthy, thriving, and liveable planet.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.