Profile: Sam Hodder ’91

Redwoods are “exemplars of resilience, patience, and forgiveness,” says Sam Hodder ’91, head of the San Francisco-based Save the Redwoods League.
Redwoods are “exemplars of resilience, patience, and forgiveness,” says Sam Hodder ’91, head of the San Francisco-based Save the Redwoods League.
Paolo Vescia

Résumé: President and CEO of Save the Redwoods League since last September. A 20-year veteran of the Trust for Public Land, who held positions in California, Maine, and Oregon. Majored in English.

Protect, restore, connect Though redwoods dominated the U.S. West Coast for millions of years, in the last 100 years, more than 95 percent of the ancient trees were felled due to logging. Hodder’s job is to protect the remaining older giants in California, help younger forests thrive, and connect people with their peace and beauty. “They’re remarkable trees, exemplars of resilience, patience, and forgiveness,” he says. Not only that, they help to mitigate global warming by absorbing significant amounts of carbon, more than any other tree in the world. Hodder helps bring together scientists, philanthropists, businesses, and citizens in making redwood conservation an environmental, economic, and cultural benefit for everyone.

Creating synergies Since graduating from Princeton, Hodder has spent his career in land conservation, negotiating deals with seeming adversaries to save remote wilderness areas, restore parks and trails, and keep inner cities green on both coasts. Beginning at the Trust for Public Land in San Francisco, he quickly emerged as a top leader. His best-known campaign has been saving the land behind the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, Cahuenga Peak.

Nature lover Enforced outdoor family time when he was a child eventually grew on Hodder, who spent Princeton summers building and repairing trails for the Appalachian Mountain Club in New Hampshire. Back on campus, he found nightly solace among the mature trees next to the Chapel. Hodder and his wife, Kendra, have four boys, from 10 to 16, who similarly love the outdoors. “But,” says the conservationist, “they remind me what a constant challenge it is these days to have our kids connect with the wilderness. We’re becoming more and more distanced from the natural world.”