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Flathead Lakers appoint new executive director

| May 23, 2024 12:00 AM

The Flathead Lakers recently appointed Coby Gierke as the organization’s new executive director, effective July 22.

According to a press release, Gierke brings nearly two decades of leadership experience in environmental conservation, and is poised to help organization continue its mission of “working for clean water, healthy ecosystems, and lasting quality of life in the Flathead Watershed.

Gierke served as executive director at the Montana State Parks Foundation, helping grow its fundraising from $90,000 in 2017 to more than $1 million in 2022, and more than tripling its newsletter audience.

As head of the Integrated Bioscience and Built Environment Consortium, based in Missoula, he spearheaded the strategic grown plan for its educational program,  Commit 2 CARE.

During his career, he’s collaborated with federal and state agencies, scaling conservation programs, and boosting initiatives that have resulted in significant funding gains and legislative achievements aimed at protecting public lands and supporting marginalized communities.

According to the Flathead Lakers, Gierke has a proven track record of growing operational budgets, increasing organizational reach, and fostering partnerships.

During his tenure at other conservation-focused organizations, Gierke developed and led programs that significantly enhanced public engagement and accessibility to natural resources, including major projects to protect and provide public access to parts of Flathead Lake.

The Lakers say his familiarity with the Flathead Basin, coupled with his personal and professional connections to the area’s key environmental and community groups, make him uniquely qualified to lead the organization.

“We are thrilled to welcome Coby Gierke to the Flathead Lakers family," said Board President Jan Swanson. "His long-standing passion for environmental conservation, strategic vision and operational expertise, and his deeply rooted connection to Flathead Lake, align perfectly with our goals. We are confident that under his leadership, the Lakers will continue to be a formidable force in the stewardship of the Flathead Watershed."

Gierke expressed his enthusiasm about his new role. “I am honored to join an organization that has been integral in maintaining the beauty and health of the Flathead Watershed,” he said. “I look forward to collaborating with our dedicated staff, volunteers, and partners to advance our mission and impact.”

The organization’s previous executive director, Kate Sheridan, stepped down last fall to pursue other professional challenges.

For more information about the Flathead Lakers and their initiatives, visit