Sean Gerrity is the Founder of American Prairie and served as its President and as one of three founding board members from 2002 to early 2018.
Throughout 2001, Sean worked with Curt Freese of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and many others to determine an effective approach to the soon-to-be American Prairie project. In early 2002, he became American Prairie’s President. His initial priority was to assemble and slowly build, from scratch, a new, free-standing, Montana-based organization that would convert what had long been a spectacularly creative and ambitious conservation idea — carried forward and promoted by WWF and others — into steady, measurable, on-the-ground action.
American Prairie started with just two full-time employees. Sean and Dakota Meeks, with contracted help from Kayla Gerrity, began building and shaping the new organization’s infrastructure, systems and processes, and marketing and fundraising strategies. Most important was fleshing out and further articulating the holistic, compelling vision that would galvanize human energy and guide the actions of American Prairie and its collaborators over the next 17 years.
In early 2018, Sean passed the CEO role to his long-time colleague and fellow executive team member, Alison Fox. By that time, the organization had grown to 35 staff and 18 board trustees, raised more than $125 million dollars in private funding and had purchased twenty-six properties totaling nearly 400,000 private and leased acres. American Prairie had also built and opened two public campgrounds, Kestrel, and the Danny, Joey and Gigi Enrico Science and Education Center, and had reintroduced bison to the prairie.
By 2018, the National Geographic Society had included American Prairie as one of their most important examples of successful large-scale conservation efforts in the world as part of their Last Wild Places initiative. In addition, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute had officially partnered with American Prairie to lead its core science efforts.
Prior to joining the American Prairie effort, Sean was one of three original founders of Catalyst Consulting in Santa Cruz, California where he worked from 1985 until 2001. Catalyst, a firm specializing in organization development and management training and development, remains in business today and continues to work with clients around the world across a wide range of industries.
Sean grew up primarily in Great Falls, Montana, graduated from Montana State University and also attended the University of Oregon.
His current interests and projects include writing a book about his personal story of leaving private industry to take on the task of starting and building the American Prairie organization, and how he and his team kept the project moving forward during the very challenging early years. The book project is partially funded by the National Geographic Society and is scheduled for publication in early 2022.
He currently enjoys helping with American Prairie’s continued progress in his role as a board member, painting in oils and watercolors, and traveling and exploring the U.S. and the rest of the world with Kayla, his partner of 40 years. Kayla and Sean have a daughter Siri, a son Dylan, and grandson, Lewis.
Sean is a National Geographic Explorer and serves on the Advisory Council for African People and Wildlife, is on the Board of Directors for Namibian-based ORKCA, and the Advisory Council for the Kratt Brother’s Creature Hero Foundation.