Since 1999, Duane Silverstein has been the executive director of Seacology, an international non-governmental organization with the sole focus of preserving islands – their fragile habitats, vanishing species and historic cultures – throughout the globe. For 18 years prior to heading Seacology, he was the executive director of the Goldman Fund, one of California’s largest philanthropic foundations. Duane was instrumental in creating and heading the Goldman Environmental Prize, which has been dubbed the “Nobel Prize of the Environment” by National Geographic and news media around the globe. Over his career he has visited 200 islands in 77 nations.
Silverstein has met with presidents of the United States, Secretaries-general of the United Nations, kings, heads of state, and indigenous chiefs throughout the world on behalf of the environment. His work has been covered in media such as Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The New York Times. Articles he has written have appeared in over a dozen international publications. In 2009 he was selected by a public vote as a national All-Star Among Us to be honored by Major League Baseball at the All-Star Game in St. Louis. In 2010 Silverstein was given the Jefferson Award for Public Service. In giving Silverstein a 2010 Coastal Hero Award, Sunset Magazine called him a “superhero of the deep.” In early 2012, he was invited to give the closing speech on the state of the Earth’s islands for the TEDx conference in South Africa’s Cape Town. In January 2015 His Serene Highness Prince Albert II honored Silverstein on behalf of Seacology for outstanding innovation in a ceremony in Monaco. Widely considered one of the world’s foremost experts on islands, he is a National Fellow of The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In 2018, he accepted the United Nations Momentum For Change climate action award on behalf of Seacology. Under his leadership, Seacology was named one of the top 15 US nonprofit organizations to work for. In 2019 Silverstein was named a Go Blue Award Lifetime Achievement Honoree.
Silverstein attended both Stony Brook and Columbia Universities, later receiving a Masters in Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.