As the last article in our staff spotlight series, learn more about Executive Director, Brook Lenker, and how his early environmental work in Pennsylvania brought him to FracTracker Alliance.
Time with FracTracker: 5 years
Education: I graduated from Towson University near Baltimore in 1989 with a degree in geography and environmental planning. I loved the course of study so much that I enrolled in the graduate school and worked on my master’s degree in the same field.
Office Location: Camp Hill, PA
Title: Executive Director
What do you actually do in that role?
From my office in Camp Hill, I lead a wonderful, talented team of eight staff working from five locations around the country. My role is to make sure FracTracker has the strategic direction, staff capacity, financial resources, and board leadership to be effective, impactful.
Previous Positions and Organizations
While I was evening commuting to Maryland, I served as program director for a county recreation department in Central Pennsylvania. Later, I landed a position with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, eventually becoming the Director of Watershed Stewardship. The activities we coordinated – river sojourns, stream and habitat restoration, stormwater education, and more – took me around the multi-state watershed even though I was based in Harrisburg.
My next stop was the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources where for over seven years I served as the Manager of Education and Outreach. My responsibilities included community relations and promoting ecological awareness and stewardship. A program called iConservePA was a focal point. My colleagues and I used creative communications strategies to encourage Pennsylvanians to “Take Conservation Personally.” This and other agency initiatives suffered when fracking began to boom.
How did you first get involved working on oil and gas issues / fracking?
As I became demoralized by the degradation I witnessed and read about, I was given the chance to direct FracTracker. I took the reins in late 2011 as the website transitioned out of the University of Pittsburgh. By the summer of 2012, we formed the nonprofit FracTracker Alliance, and I became its executive director. Sometimes things happen for a reason.
It’s hard to believe I’ve been at the helm of FracTracker for nearly five years. Knowing that we’re a helpful force in the fight against the harms of extraction is rewarding. The projects and the people with whom I interact are inspiring. While the challenges facing our planet are daunting and, at times, depressing, I’m lucky to be able to exercise my convictions in the workplace.
What is one of the most impactful projects that you have been involved in with FracTracker?
It’s been an unforgettable journey so far. I’ve learned so much and met so many great people – from different states and different countries. Perhaps my greatest experience to date was a tour to Argentina in May 2015. Alongside reps from Ecologic Institute and Earthworks, we presented to hundreds of people at different venues including the senate of Argentina. As I spoke of the insights of FracTracker and other researchers, an interpreter put my words into Spanish. I felt overwhelmingly humble and grateful.
Environmental injustice knows no bounds, but good people everywhere make a profound difference.