TWS CEO Ed Thompson announces retirement

The Wildlife Society’s Chief Executive Officer Ed Thompson announced his intention to retire later this year.

“I have given TWS my absolute best effort over the past seven years,” Thompson told Council in announcing his retirement.

“It has been my honor to work for The Wildlife Society and I will have many happy and warm memories of my years here,” he said.

Thompson was hired by TWS in 2014 and served for three years as the Chief Operating Officer before being named to the lead role in 2017. As the first top executive for the Society without a wildlife or science background, Thompson brought nearly 25 years of experience of leadership in membership organizations.

“Ed Thompson has provided strong and forward-thinking leadership for The Wildlife Society,” said TWS’ Executive Committee members. “Under his guidance, TWS membership and partnerships grew, the organization successfully navigated a pandemic and shift to a virtual annual Conference, and new initiatives flourished. He is leaving the organization in a very secure financial condition, which is especially important in these very trying times.”

Thompson’s strong business acumen resulted in record membership growth, enhancements to TWS’ conference and other operations, the creation of new revenue streams and member benefits and budget surpluses that have helped secure a strong financial footing for the organization.

“Providing insights and leadership which helped turn this organization around and build it to its current state will be one of my proudest life accomplishments,” stated Thompson. “I hope that my efforts will continue to benefit the wildlife profession and wildlife conservation for many years to come.”

During his tenure with TWS, membership increased by 30% to record highs through the launch of new member benefits and the Give Back program. He led the creation and launch of the weekly eWildlifer newsletter, TWS Talks and TWS’ Network Online Directory.

Thompson also led changes to TWS’ conference, which engaged more members and saw an increase in average attendance at the annual event by nearly 50% over the past seven years. He enhanced online communications efforts and oversaw the redesign and launch of a new, which now generates more than 1.3 million page views annually and has a social media audience of more than 125,000.

His efforts to enhance member benefits and services were bolstered by his launch of new revenue-generating programs. TWS’ Partners Program has strengthened relationships and collaboration with several U.S. federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations to provide more than $250,000 in annual support for the Society. Thompson also created The 1000 donor campaign, inspiring more than 500 members to donate more than $580,000 in support of TWS initiatives over the past six years.

“Ed has served as a guide, leader, manager, and role model for staff and Council. We are saddened to see him depart TWS but thank him for the rewarding work he completed while with us,” the Executive Committee said. “We wish him the best as he moves forward.”

“I’ve been honored to work with such a talented and dedicated team of professionals at our headquarters,” Thompson said. “I know that the future for this organization is bright because they will continue to produce great outcomes and results for TWS members and the profession.”

The Wildlife Society’s Council will begin its search for a new CEO to ensure a smooth transition when Thompson retires on Aug. 31.