Wild Rivers Conservancy seeks executive director

Deb Ryun announces retirement after leading group for a decade-and-a-half.




2 minute read

Deb Ryun speaks at a celebration of 50 years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 2018. (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

After 15 years as executive director, Deb Ryun is retiring as leader of Wild Rivers Conservancy of the St. Croix and Namekagon. Deb was hired in 2009 to be the first executive director of what was then the St. Croix River Association, and has built it into a large and effective organization. She will leave on June 30, 2024.

“We are grateful to Deb for her inspiring leadership as the organization’s first Executive Director, who created the strong community of river stewards we are today,” said Wild Rivers Conservancy’s board chair Stu Neville. “We are confident the Conservancy’s skilled and capable staff will continue to deliver the high-quality programs and activities you’ve come to expect as we search for Wild Rivers Conservancy’s next Executive Director to lead the organization.”

Based in Osceola, Wis., Wild Rivers Conservancy has about a dozen staff and a budget of about $1.1 million, according to its most recent annual report. The group organizes volunteers, advocates for river protection, educates young people and adults, organizes river experiences, collaborates to restore the river and its watershed, and more. Wild Rivers Conservancy is also the official nonprofit partner of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Wild Rivers Conservancy is now seeking applications for its next executive director:

“The Executive Director has overall strategic and operational responsibility for Wild River Conservancy’s execution of mission, financial health, impact and effectiveness, and organizational culture. The executive director leads a team of 13 professionals, reports to a 22-member Board of Directors, and works collaboratively with our primary partner the National Park Service. They are responsible for managing a $1.3 M annual budget. Someone excited to lead a well-established organization, with a strong membership base, and able to leverage and grow the established partnerships, will flourish at this unique organization.”

More information and job application details are available on Wild Rivers Conservancy’s website.

The St. Croix River Association was first formed in 1911, making it one of the oldest conservation organizations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (The group changed its name to Wild Rivers Conservancy in 2021.) In 2008, the board of directors decided to expand it from a primarily volunteer-run organization to a professionally staffed nonprofit group. Deb brought that vision to life.

Deb was also an early, consistent, and essential supporter of St. Croix 360. In 2012, she and others invited me to speak at the annual Protecting the St. Croix Conference at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Afterwards, she offered on behalf of the organization to provide financial support for St. Croix 360’s conservation reporting, which made a lot possible.

Hopefully retirement will mean lots of time for Deb to kayak her favorite stretches of the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers. She knows the importance of river time as much as anyone. Congratulations, and thank you for everything, Deb!


2 responses to “Wild Rivers Conservancy seeks executive director”

  1. Rick Neville Avatar
    Rick Neville

    Congratulations Deb and thanks for all you have done to conserve this resource now and for future generations.

  2. Brian Finstad Avatar
    Brian Finstad

    Best wishes to you Deb. If you are ever up in Gordon, let me know!



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Wild Rivers Conservancy seeks executive director