The Wilderness Society (TWS)

Results-Driven Approach for National and Place-Based Collective Impact


Our public lands, and the people and wildlife who rely on them, face unprecedented challenges. Since 1935, The Wilderness Society (TWS) has led the charge to protect 111 million acres of wilderness, directly contributing to the passage of almost every major conservation law while fighting hard against attempts to undermine them.

Although TWS has a long history of protecting our nation’s public, wild lands, they moved into a new defensive era when the Trump administration began degrading environmental regulations; bypassing traditional public participation in policy decisions; and undermining the Antiquities Act that protects our nation’s natural and cultural resources.

To effectively meet these mounting challenges, TWS needed to adapt their approach. The TWS executive leadership, governing council, staff, and key stakeholders developed a new five-year Strategic Plan that recharted their future with a new, more inclusive, mission, vision, and strategy.

The Process

With the Due East team and a committee of board and staff members of varying departments, positions and tenure, TWS launched a months-long strategic planning process that aimed to position TWS to meet the current demands of conservation by centering people and equity in their approach.

From activities led by Due East including conducting surveys during multiple stages of the process, to engaging key partners and stakeholders to get input on the direction of iterations of TWS’s reworked vision, mission, and priorities, the strategic planning process enabled TWS to embark on bringing a new strategic framework into fruition, prioritizing inclusive community-led conservation and the climate and extinction crises.

The Results

  • Active engagement of 300+ of NWF key constituents including board members, staff, affiliates, partners and supporters
  • A collective, broadly owned, actionable 4-year plan committed to advancing three strategic priorities endorsed by each of NWF’s 51 state/territorial affiliates plan, tested by 255 internal and external constituents
  • An initial organizational architecture to support the new, bold path forward and increased trust and capacity to successfully execute it

“I firmly believe our Strategic Framework gives us the guidance and focus (that North Star!) that we need to navigate these tough times and make critical decisions about what work to move forward and how best to focus our bandwidth and energy for greatest impact. The Framework will help us differentiate ourselves and make the case for why our work is impactful and critical, and why our donors and supporters should continue to invest in us.”

Melyssa Watson

Executive Director

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