Donal C. O'Brien '52
Donal C. O'Brien Jr. '52

Donal C. O'Brien Jr. '52

Profession: Chairman of the Board, Atlantic Salmon Federation; former chairman, National Audubon Society; vice-chair, the Nature Conservancy

Field: Environment

Environmentalist Donal C. O’Brien Jr. was graduated from Williams College and from the University of Virginia Law School. He began his law career at the firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy of New York as an associate, serving as a partner from 1967 to 1987 and then again from 1991 until his retirement from the firm in 1999. He acted as chief legal counsel for Rockefeller Family & Associates, as president and chief executive officer of the Rockefeller Trust Company, and as a director of the Trust from 1986 to present.

O’Brien’s record of public service is extensive. He was appointed commissioner of the Connecticut Board of Fisheries and Game and twice to serve on the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality. Mr. O’Brien served as chairman of Governor Weicker’s Task Force on Hunting and Public Safety in Connecticut. He was appointed chairman of the Connecticut Council on Environmental Quality in 1996, where he served until the statutory term expired in 2004.

O’Brien is a current member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and a chairman emeritus. He is a trustee of Jackson Hole Preserve, Inc., Waterfowl Research Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. He is a council member of the Save-the-Redwoods League and a member of the advisory committee of The Trustees of Reservations.

A founding director and chairman emeritus of the American Bird Conservancy, O’Brien was the first recipient of the Audubon New York Environmental Leadership Award and the Audubon Connecticut Environmental Award. He is a recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Clyde Fisher Award for Environmental Leadership, the “Man of the Year” Award for New York Ducks Unlimited, the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation Award for “Outstanding Leadership,” the Harvey Weil Sportsman Conservationist “Man for all Seasons” 2004 Award, the “Happy” Fraser Conservation Award by the Atlantic Salmon Federation of Canada, the Lee Wulff Conservation Award of the Atlantic Salmon Federation of the U.S., and the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Award. He received an honorary degree from Northland College “in recognition of lifetime commitment to conservation and the environment” and was awarded the designation of the “Donal C. O’Brien Jr. Sanctuary” at Pine Island, Currituck Outer Banks, NC, and the concurrent designation of the “Katie O’Brien Wildlife Meadow” at the Audubon Sanctuary and Nature Center in Greenwich, CT.

On his retirement as Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality and as the longest serving Council member, he received a proclamation of “honor, recognition and congratulations” from Governor Jodi Rell. The National Audubon Society created in his honor the Donal C. O’Brien Jr. Fund for the Conservation of Birds, other Wildlife and their Habitat through Advocacy and Public Policy and the O’Brien Chair for the Vice President of Public Policy. In addition, Mr. O’Brien was awarded an official citation “in recognition of his lifetime commitment to the environment and his tireless work for wildlife preservation” from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

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