Director and Chief Executive Officer
Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries
Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs
Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies
“If the 20th century was the era of environmental brawn, the 21st century is the era of environmental brains.”
Photo credit: Lynda Shenkman Curtis
For 37 years, John Cronin has dedicated his career to water and environmental affairs. For his accomplishments, Time magazine named him a “Hero for the Planet” and People magazine described him as “equal parts detective, scientist and public advocate.”
Cronin is known internationally for his 17 years as Hudson Riverkeeper, a position that has inspired a legacy of 200 Waterkeeper programs that fight pollution on six continents. For this work, Time magazine named him a “Hero for the Planet” and the Wall Street Journal called him “a unique presence on America’s major waterways.” Cronin also served as an aide to Republican Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr. and as an aide to Democratic Assemblyman Maurice Hinchey. He was the lead environmental negotiator for the New York City Watershed Agreement, and was the author and lead lobbyist of three state environmental laws.
As Director and CEO of Beacon Institute, Cronin directs a program of advanced technology development for real-time monitoring of rivers and estuaries, and STEM education for teachers and students. The Institute’s River and Estuary Observatory Network (REON), created in collaboration with Clarkson University and IBM, is a network of sensors and robotics providing real-time data to researchers, policy makers and educators that will be emulated on rivers and estuaries worldwide.
As Senior Fellow in Environmental Affairs at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies at Pace University, Cronin is heading the formation of a center for water policy reformation, and creating a program of undergraduate and graduate studies for the next generation of environmental leaders.
Cronin co-authored The Riverkeepers with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and published by Scribner with an introduction by former Vice President Al Gore. He has written numerous articles, including for the Op Ed page of The New York Times. He wrote and co-produced the film The Last Rivermen, named an outstanding documentary by the Motion Picture Academy Foundation. His essay, “Where Human and Nature Meet,” is featured in the book, Oceans, released in 2010 by Public Affairs Books, to accompany the Disney and National Geographic motion picture of the same name .
Cronin lectures nationally on our environmental future. “If the 20th century was the era of environmental brawn, the 21st century has to be the era of environmental brains,” he tells his audiences. “One billion people are without safe water. We have the know-how and compassion to correct that tragedy, and harmonize forever the human and natural worlds. This is the greatest challenge of the 21st century.”
Cronin’s many awards and honors include an honorary Juris Doctor from Pace University School of Law, the William E. Ricker Award from the American Fisheries Society and the Thomas Berry Environmental Award. He has been the subject of three books and extensive major media print and broadcast news stories, documentaries and profiles. The Knight-Ridder newspapers praised John Cronin as a “hero in one of the great success stories of the modern environmental movement.”