The Conservation Council for Hawai‘i regrets to announce the passing of Marjorie Yasue Fern Ziegler, beloved environmental advocate, outspoken champion for native plants and wildlife and the Executive Director of CCH for the last 15 years.
Marjorie Ziegler passed away in her family home on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. She was 62 years old.
Known throughout the environmental community in Hawai‘i and abroad for her dedication to protecting native flora and fauna, Marjorie carried on a family legacy of conservation science and advocacy in Hawai‘i that began with her father, Alan Conrad Ziegler, a zoological consultant and former director of Bishop Museum’s Division of Vertebrate Zoology.
“Her father no doubt left a deep impression on her, and her lifelong commitment to the environment was unquestionable,” said Randy Bartlett, former CCH board member and current Interagency Coordinator for the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council. “From the classroom in our college days, until the last weeks of her life, she never stopped advocating for native species biodiversity and conservation.”
Marjorie’s thirty-plus years of environmental work included 14 years at the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, later known as Earthjustice, and 15 years as the executive director of CCH, where she both spearheaded conservation initiatives and worked behind the scenes with policymakers and grassroots groups alike.
As CCH’s first full-time staff person, Marjorie brought an energy and stubborn dedication that moved CCH to the forefront of Hawai’i’s conservation movement. With Marjorie at the helm, CCH expanded its educational and advocacy programs, forged new and greater local and national partnerships and engaged in historic litigation, all while growing its membership to over 5,000 members — becoming one of if not the largest wildlife organization in the islands.
A social media statement on her passing immediately resulted in an outpouring of sadness and aloha, with many commentators expressing how she had touched their lives personally, and nearly all attesting to her unparalleled impact on Hawai‘i’s conservation landscape. “Warrior,” “change-maker” and “an inspiration,” were common refrains, as were expressions of heartbreak and sorrow.
For all her passion, Marjorie remained grounded in scientific research and objective analysis, an approach that earned both her and CCH an unmatched reputation for credibility, including at the legislature and throughout the conservation community.
“Marjorie was as reliable as she was brilliant – so of course, when she spoke, people listened,” said Wayne Tanaka, CCH Board President. “From legislators to agency personnel to folks on the ground, Marjorie was the number-one go-to person for advice, a fact-check or if you were lucky, an ally in your fight.”
At the request of numerous friends and supporters of Marjorie, the CCH Board of Directors has established a Marjorie Ziegler Legacy Fund to help further the legacy of her important conservation work and commitment to the wildlife and wild places of Hawai’i. Donations to the Fund will be dedicated exclusively to initiatives and programs that conserve, restore and protect Hawaii’s native flora, fauna and remaining habitats.
Marjorie is survived by her mother, Kaye Tasuko Ziegler, and brother, Walter Arthur Yoshitaka Ziegler.