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Conservancy of Southwest Florida promotes Michele Arquette-Palermo to chief program officer

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida has promoted Michele Arquette-Palermo from water policy manager to the newly created executive-level role of chief program officer.

Reporting directly to President and CEO Rob Moher, Arquette-Palermo supervises program directors and education managers while ensuring activities align with the Conservancy’s mission and values. Arquette- Palermo is responsible for overseeing the strategic planning process, coordinating inter-departmental goals and objectives, growing and enhancing programs, and applying insights from program evaluation to strengthen conservation outcomes.

A Michigan native, Arquette-Palermo brings more than 20 years of education and advocacy experience to the position. As the Conservancy’s water policy manager since 2022, she provided primary leadership and technical expertise for the Conservancy on natural resources issues, including water resources policy and Everglades restoration.

Arquette-Palermo has spent the balance of her professional career at Cranbrook Institute of Science in Michigan, where her positions included head of the freshwater forum, watershed education coordinator, acting visitor services manager and museum educator. While there, she forged relationships with the community, all levels of government, higher learning institutions, corporations and foundations, creating a variety of advocacy tools that included exhibitions, regional water resource awareness campaigns, environmental education festivals and a mini documentary that explained why protecting the Great Lakes is vital to Michigan’s economy and future.

Additional roles prior to her service at the Conservancy include director of community engagement for Memphis Museum of Science and History in Tennessee and program director for the Clinton River Watershed Council in Michigan.

Arquette-Palermo earned a Master of Science degree in nonprofit management and leadership from Walden University and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Northern Michigan University. She also completed graduate-level coursework at Northern Michigan in biology, ecology, botany and fisheries management.

“As the Conservancy continues to grow, we needed an individual with strong leadership skills, a strategic thinker with a proven track record and an ability to multitask, and most importantly, he or she needed to share our passion for conservation, environment science and education,” Moher said. “Michele checked all those boxes, and then some, and her leadership will be critical as the Conservancy takes the next step to further its mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.”

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