Charles Saylan


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Charles Saylan, Executive Director of Ocean Conservation Society, has worked toward raising public awareness of environmental issues and stimulating action through the creation and implementation of participatory environmental education programs.  His award winning programs emphasize measurable impact and community involvement.  Charlie is also involved in studying the ecology of marine mammals in California with a strong conservation bias.  He is co-author of several peer-reviewed scientific papers on cetacean ecology and conservation, and is active in ongoing field marine mammal research focusing on the effects of pollutants on cetaceans.  In April 2012, Charles served as a panelist at the 2012 White House Summit on Environmental Education, discussing ideas and recommendations from his book “The Failure of Environmental Education (And How We Can Fix It)”.  His book was used as the central theme to frame the MIT Collaborative Initiatives 2013 Albright Challenge, held at the Broad Center of MIT and Harvard in Boston, MA, which focused on the intersection of education and the environment, where Charles was also a panelist.

Charlie Saylan grew up in Los Angeles, California at a time when there were still ample open and undeveloped spaces to explore.  As a child he spent much time backpacking and camping with his family, which, early on, fostered a strong bond with the outdoors.  He became active in the civil rights and free-speech movements of the 1960’s, as the youngest editor of an underground newspaper in California, and later in the anti-war movement.

Following his love of the outdoors, he opened a small mountaineering shop that later grew into one of the first manufacturers of Goretex mountain gear on the West Coast.  This was the beginning of his entrepreneurial career, in which, he successfully created, developed and managed diverse businesses in the service, manufacturing and entertainment sectors.

Throughout his professional career, he has maintained a strong relationship with nature as climber, mountaineer, sailor and commercial captain.

In 1990, Charlie moved to Italy, where he worked as a freelance photo journalist and writer, publishing articles in major European magazines on business & marketing, sailing, travel & nature, and writing two books for Italian editors. Returning to the U.S. in 1995, Charlie became increasingly frustrated by the accelerating disappearance and degradation of the wild places he cared about. In 1998, he co-founded Ocean Conservation Society to help protect ocean ecosystems through scientific research, education and public outreach.

Charles lives with his wife, Maddalena, in Los Angeles, where he is currently working on a new book.

Books written by Charles

The Failure of Environmental Education (and how we can fix it)