Robyn Thorson is Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Pacific Region. Thorson focuses her conservation leadership on collaboration with others, including Tribes and indigenous island communities, states, agricultural and natural resource dependent communities, private landowners in rural and urban settings, watershed councils, conservation groups, coral reef advisory groups, universities, land trusts, among other valued partners.
Thorson started her federal career with USFWS in 1985 in the Portland Regional Office. She subsequently has worked in three other USFWS regional offices and had two separate appointments in the USFWS Washington, DC, office. The Pacific Region includes Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands.
In her position, Thorson oversees USFWS activities in the Pacific Region, which manages 1.3 million acres on 64 national wildlife refuges, 17 national fish hatcheries plus an additional seven state and tribal hatcheries managed through the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan, eight fisheries stations, and five ecological services field offices and six ecological services sub-offices. The Pacific Region co-manages the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawai’ian Islands with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State of Hawai’i.
Before becoming Pacific Regional Director in November 2008, Thorson served five years as Director of USFWS’ eight-state Midwest Region, based in Minnesota. Prior to that position, she was the USFWS Assistant Director for External Affairs in Washington, DC, from August 2000 until March 2003. In that position, she supervised the USFWS programs for Public Affairs, Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Native American Liaison and Research Coordination. She also provided Washington office oversight for the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Immediately prior to her appointment as Assistant Director, she worked for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Seattle, Washington, as the Associate Regional Chief Biologist for the USGS Biological Resources Division from January 1999 until August 2000.
Almost a third of Thorson’s USFWS career was in Alaska. From 1995 to January 1999, she was the Deputy Regional Director for the Alaska Region and from 1989 to 1993, she was the Associate Regional Director, responsible for issues related to the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In between her Alaska assignments, Thorson served as the Assistant Regional Director for Budget and Administration for the USFWS Southwest Region, headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director of USFWS in 1988 and 1989 and before that, she worked in the Regional Office in Portland, Oregon, in the Endangered Species Program and in Contracting.
Thorson earned her Juris Doctorate at the University of Oregon School of Law. She was an attorney for the State of Washington before starting her federal career, and she maintains her license to practice law in Washington. She intends to see a game in every Major League ballpark in America.