NEW HAVEN, CT—Denise Stranko, an attorney and environmental consultant with more than 20 years of experience in legislative action and policy, has joined Save the Sound as its Vice President of Programs. Denise succeeds Leah Lopez Schmalz, who took on the role of Save the Sound’s president October 1. In her new role, based at Save the Sound’s New Haven office, Denise will direct and implement the organization’s strategic plan and serve as a primary voice for Long Island Sound and all the communities in its watershed. She will also connect Save the Sound with new supporters, build networks, partner with the philanthropy team, and serve as a member of the executive team.
Denise comes to Save the Sound with over 20 years of experience advocating for strong environmental laws and policies at both the federal and state levels. Her areas of expertise include administrative law, appropriations, agricultural issues, and the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. In her most recent role as the Federal Executive Director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, she led her team, in partnership with a large coalition, to lobby for the successful reauthorization of, and an increase in funding for, the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program.
After graduating from SUNY Albany, Denise earned her JD at Emory University and started her legal career as a litigator in private practice, later following her interest in the environment to the role of counsel in the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General. She joined the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2001 as the Maryland State Attorney and later served as the Maryland Assistant Director. She then launched an environmental consulting firm, taking on numerous non-governmental organizations as clients, including Connecticut Fund for the Environment, one of Save the Sound’s founding organizations. Denise returned to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in 2017 as its Federal Legislative and Policy Manager.
A resident of Glastonbury, Connecticut since 2007, along with her husband, two children, and their dog, Sunny, Denise is looking forward to bringing her deep knowledge of environmental legislation and policy home. “Coming to Save the Sound gives me an opportunity to engage more meaningfully with issues in the region where I already live. At the same time, I see many similarities between Long Island Sound and the Chesapeake Bay, from geography to shared challenges. For example, like the Bay, Long Island Sound requires multi-state coordination along with a federal component. It’s so much more interesting that way, and so much more impactful,” Denise said.
“Of all the organizations working in the Long Island Sound region, only Save the Sound could have called me away from the Bay,” Denise said. Having worked as a consultant with Save the Sound’s team eight years ago, Denise knew it would be the right place for her—an organization, she observed, that is led by substantive, informed leaders who are “deliberative, bipartisan, big-picture, and so well respected.”
For more than 50 years, Save the Sound has been protecting clean water, conserving lands, fighting climate change, and restoring Long Island Sound ecosystems through hands-on science and community collaboration, legislative advocacy, and legal action. The mission of Save the Sound is to protect and improve the land, air, and water of the entire Long Island Sound region, including Connecticut, Westchester, New York City, and Long Island. Save the Sound is in an exciting growth phase, with numerous new positions open and forthcoming. View detailed job descriptions here.