Chad Nelsen

As Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Chad Nelsen leads the Surfrider Foundation Global Headquarters team in providing service, resources and support to more than 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide, including 85 Surfrider Chapters. He works closely with the Board of Directors and Executive Staff to develop the future of the organization and create and execute plans and strategies to reach those goals.

Nelsen has worked for Surfrider for 17 years, and during that time led the Environmental Department, giving him a unique perspective and impressive depth of knowledge of the organization’s programs and campaigns. In 2014, he assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer. Prior to Surfrider, Nelsen was a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Fellow.

With more than 20 years of experience working to protect the coast, Nelsen encourages an integrated approach that merges protecting coastal recreation with conservation. He inspires grassroots action through programs that monitor fresh water quality and transform landscapes to reduce polluted runoff, shift coastal management toward proactive solutions, reduce plastics pollution, and advance comprehensive ocean planning.

Nelsen holds a Doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Master’s of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment, and a Bachelor’s of Science from Brown University.

In addition to his Surfrider duties, Nelsen serves as the Board President for the Save the Waves, and is the Director at The Coastal Society.

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