NRDC Board Trustee Tributes
Honoring longtime NRDC Trustees Dean Abrahamson, Adam Albright, and Frederick Terry Jr. (Ted).
Longtime former Board member and honorary Board member Dean Abrahamson passed away on January 4. He was a force for our work from the very early days, joining the board in 1972 and remaining part of the NRDC community for nearly 50 years.
Abrahamson had advanced degrees in physics and medicine. His first job out of school was as a reactor physicist, but his career went on to span industry, government, and academia. In the late 1960s, he focused in on the environment, particularly the public health implications of energy policies. He was a professor of public affairs at the University of Minnesota until his retirement in 1998.
NRDC Found Director John Adams shared that it was Abrahamson and his good friend George Woodwell who first established NRDC as a scientific powerhouse. From the start, Abrahamson ensured that NRDC’s policy responses were based on solid science. He was a visionary leader on climate threats and solutions, long before most of the U.S. environmental community was fully engaged, and a champion of our nuclear project and nonproliferation work. Abrahamson was widely admired by the NRDC program staff; he had a reputation for being collaborative and responsive, freely exchanging ideas and strategy. He was proud of his role supporting our staff and particularly enjoyed helping to recruit and advise future climate leaders. NRDC cofounder James Gustave “Gus” Speth remembers Abrahamson’s wry and perceptive sense of humor and his delight in his Swedish roots and community in Minnesota.
During his time on the board, Abrahamson championed the 1988 launch of NRDC’s Atmospheric Protection Initiative and edited our 1989 book, The Challenge of Global Warming, a volume that stands out still as a singularly compelling integration of science reporting and policy advocacy. He leaves a legacy of innovation, thought leadership, and commitment to science that continues to be part of NRDC today.
On Sunday, February 26, we lost longtime environmental champion and former Trustee Adam Albright. Albright left an indelible mark on NRDC through his leadership, philanthropy, and friendship during the three decades he served on our board (1984 to 2015) and in the years that followed.
Albright was a private investor who channeled his personal success into organizations like NRDC, as well as important causes like women’s rights and the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples. In 1993, he and his wife, Rachel, founded the ARIA Foundation, which continues to fund our work—including our recent Bristol Bay success. But his generosity went beyond financial support. On the Board, he chaired three committees and NRDC’s first capital campaign and, alongside Honorary Trustee Philip Korsant, jump-started our Membership program in its earliest days. NRDC Founding Director John Adams shared that Albright was also a true activist, writing letters, campaigning, and getting involved in politics to promote the issues that mattered so much to him—and all of us.
Albright was an avid outdoorsman with a brilliant mind and a deep passion for protecting the planet. Without him, NRDC wouldn’t be the powerhouse it is today.
Frederick Terry, Jr. (Ted)
Influential NRDC friend and board member Frederick Terry Jr. passed away on January 13.
Terry was a great partner to many at NRDC—before joining our Board of Trustees in 1988 and through his 17-year tenure and beyond. A respected lawyer at the firm Sullivan and Cromwell, he served as a partner and senior counsel during his remarkable 66-year career there. One of his clients was Mike McIntosh, president of the McIntosh Foundation, which went on to become one of NRDC’s first major donors. During a time when environmental groups like NRDC were controversial, Terry was a powerful voice who helped our supporters understand that the work we were doing was both important and a safe investment. NRDC Founding Director John Adams shared that Terry was critical to NRDC’s growth—he was our wise counselor and fierce advocate. He was also an enthusiastic member of the advisory board for our well-loved former magazine, the Amicus Journal, and a generous supporter of NRDC personally. You can find more details about Ted in his obituary here.
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