- Former President of the League of Conservation Voters
Deb Callahan was President of the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) from January 1996 until her resignation on January 4, 2006. She subsequently served on the boards of the Earth Day Network, the Federation of State Conservation Voter Leagues, and the Partnership Project. And in May 2015 she became the executive director of the Bay Area Open Space Council.
After earning her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies (and graduating also with a minor in political science) from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1981, Callahan worked for numerous political and environmentalist causes. In 1984 she was field coordinator for the Democratic presidential campaign of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. In 1985-86 she was LCV’s New England Political Director. In 1986-87 she worked as a legislative assistant in the Washington, DC office of North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad. In 1987-88 she served as national field director for the “Gore for President” campaign; that same year, she was named Executive Director of the nonprofit group Americans for the Environment. In 1990-91 she was campaign manager for the successful re-election bid of U.S. Representative Howard Wolpe. In 1991-92 she was a political officer for the National Toxics Campaign. From 1992-94, she was the program officer of the W. Alton Jones Foundation’s environmental program. And in 1995-96 she served as the first Executive Director of the Brainerd Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting environmental programs in the northwestern United States. The following year, she was named LCV president.
Under Callahan’s leadership, LCV launched its “Dirty Dozen” campaign designed to “defeat vulnerable anti-environment candidates.” In 2004, all but one of the individuals so designated were Republicans. By contrast, LCV’s “Environmental Champions” initiative has lauded such leftwing Democrats as Barbara Boxer, Raul Grijalva, Barack Obama, and Hilda Solis.
When LCV’s Presidential Report Card gave President Bush its first-ever “F” grade in 2003, Callahan stated: “Bush’s dismal Report Card is dominated by a disturbing trend: time after time, Bush favors corporate interests over the public’s interest in a clean, safe, and healthy environment. Under the Bush administration, corporate polluters have been allowed to write the laws.”
Callahan took her anti-Bush message to the pages of the People’s Weekly World, the newspaper of the Communist Party USA. In a 2003 article therein, Callahan wrote: “Americans have watched President Bush consistently place the desires of powerful corporate interests ahead of the needs of regular people.”
In 2016, Callahan donated money to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.