Great Lakes Commission names Darren Nichols new executive director

Mar 21, 2018 | News and Announcements

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission (GLC) is pleased to announce the hiring of Darren Nichols, formerly of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, as its new executive director. Nichols, who most recently served as associate director for the William D. Ruckelshaus Center in Seattle, will oversee the GLC’s work on regional programs and advocacy, as well as day-to-day operations.

“We are so excited to welcome Darren Nichols to the Great Lakes Commission as our new executive director,” said GLC Chair John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “As the former leader of an interstate compact agency, he brings a strong background in building strategic partnerships and addressing high-profile public policy issues. We are looking forward to his fresh perspective on managing Great Lakes issues and believe he will be an outstanding leader in balancing economic and environmental interests on behalf of our member states and provinces.”

“I am thrilled to work with the Commission and all of our constituents, communities and partners in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River basin.” Nichols said. “Together we have an opportunity to reinvigorate our shared mission – to protect these world-class resources and build a vibrant economic future.”

As executive director of the Columbia River Gorge Commission, Nichols managed a regional, bistate agency governed by a thirteen-member commission. He convened Oregon and Washington governors’ offices, local and state officials, tribal leaders, railroads, environmental advocates, scientists, property owners, business leaders, and other interests to address complex public policy issues, including fossil fuel transport, climate change, forest health, urban growth management, and regional economic development. Nichols developed and led multi-agency, multi-disciplinary partnerships to address regional challenges.

Nichols earned a bachelor’s degree in business economics from Willamette University and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Portland State University. He also earned a J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School with a focus on environmental, natural resources, and energy law.

Nichols, who will officially begin his duties in mid-April, is the GLC’s sixth executive director since it was established in 1955 by the Great Lakes states to coordinate management of the water resources of the Great Lakes basin and to represent the states’ interests on Great Lakes matters before the federal government. The GLC promotes the concept that a healthy environment and prosperous economy should be mutually dependent, not exclusive, goals. With appointees from the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces, the GLC advocates for legislation and programs to benefit the lakes.

Nichols succeeds Tim Eder, who left the GLC in 2017 to manage a grantmaking portfolio at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation that focuses on addressing freshwater challenges, particularly those in the Great Lakes basin.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chairman John Linc Stine, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at


For media inquiries, please contact Beth Wanamaker, [email protected].

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