The Wilderness Society

Policy Advocacy, New Membership Effort and Fundraising 

Oversaw the development, implementation and measurement of results-oriented communications campaigns directed to The Wilderness Society (TWS) members, the news media, lawmakers, corporate cause-marketing partners, like-minded environmental organizations, and the general public.


The Challenge

Carry out an initiative to increase the success of TWS wilderness conservation efforts. The project must raise the overall visibility of TWS among target audiences, namely (1) current and potential TWS members and donors and (2) the news media that cover environmental issues and state and federal lawmakers. Also, it should better educate target audiences about the threats to important wild lands nationwide and what steps might be taken to reduce or eliminate those threats.



  • Evaluate all TWS national public education initiatives of recent years for lessons learned.

  • Solicit relevant experiences and new ideas from all TWS staff nationwide.

  • Develop a special event or activity that engages all target audiences and raises their awareness about the threats to treasured wild lands across the United States and solutions for saving them.


Key Tactics

  • Rework an existing annual TWS publication about America’s “Most Endangered Wild Lands” (that had garnered only minimal press attention in the past) to serve as a high-profile annual report of the status of well-known and greatly appreciated wild lands. 

    • Involve all TWS staff in the design and content of the revised annual publication.

    • Develop clear and valid criteria for TWS staff to follow in nominating wild lands for “most endangered” classification and presentation in an annual report. 

    • Require the evaluation of a mix of federal and state wild lands including refuges, national parks, national forests, rivers, deserts, and designated wilderness areas.

  • Create a report designed to appeal most to the news media, but also be utilized effectively for TWS fundraising and membership outreach.

  • Work with other national environmental groups to determine the best timing for the release of the report.



  • An annual “15 Most Endangered Wild Lands” report was developed and distributed nationwide.

  • The new publication was designed and formatted to resemble a weekly news magazine. It attractively presented a brief description of the “most endangered” wild lands selected by the organization. In each case, an individual “champion of the land” was quoted and the description of the endangered land summarized the inherent spiritual and environmental value of the land, threats to the continued preservation of the land, how the general public and lawmakers could help protect the land, and the actions TWS had undertaken to help protect the land. 

  • Throughout the three years Gisele oversaw the creation and dissemination of the Report, it generated news stories nationwide by national, regional and local media outlets, including the Associated Press (wire service, TV and radio), CBS Network TV News, CNN Headline News (TV and radio), NBC Nightly News, Greenwire, Albuquerque Journal, Colorado Daily, Denver Post, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Portland Press Herald, Miami Herald, and many more.

  • The release of the publication also generated a sharp spike in visits to the TWS Web site, new members, and individual donations.

  • The report was distributed directly to major donors and resulted in increased financial donations by this premier group of supporters.


The report was disseminated directly to selected members of Congress. It was repeatedly referenced by lawmakers and TWS to champion a variety of bills for wilderness protection.