Meet Our Executive Director

Jason Rainey is an engaged advocate, community organizer and executive director who for 20 years has contributed significantly to the economic justice and ecological restoration movements.

Jason Rainey
Jason Rainey

Jason served as Executive Director for the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) from 2005-2011, where he built a grassroots movement to restore a healthy Yuba River, championed the decommissioning of two federal dams, protected wild salmon runs, improved water quality and habitats, and fought new dams. Under his leadership, SYRCL expanded its award-winning River Monitoring Program, involving hundreds of volunteer “citizen scientists” in community-based watershed assessment, planning and restoration projects. Jason developed SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival into one of the largest and most successful environmental film events in North America, building a network of over 100 affiliated organizations throughout the country through the Wild & Scenic On Tour program.

As a Program Director of the Marin Conservation Corps (Conservation Corps North Bay) from 1999-2005, Jason initiated and led a range of innovate collaborative projects focusing on creek rehabilitation, solid-waste recycling, school gardening, and wildlife monitoring through a youth and young adult life skills and job-training program. He has also worked as an educator, researcher and organizer for human rights and environmental initiatives throughout the world, in places as diverse as Russia, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, and Thailand.

Jason Rainey Performing a
Jason Rainey Performing a "Salmon Run" Ceremony

Linking indigenous rights and environmental protection, Jason worked with the Tsi-Akim Maidu Tribe to establish the Calling Back the Salmon Committee, a diverse group of community members that reinitiated the Maidu salmon ceremony for the first time in 150 years, culminating in a “spirit run” of salmon around a dam to symbolize the healing necessary to return salmon to the upper watershed. He has also served as a steering committee member of the California Hydropower Reform Coalition and a board member for SalmonAid.

California has a long history of dam-building, as well as being a leader in protecting Wild and Scenic Rivers, restoring rivers after the environmental devastation of dams, and finding sustainable water and energy solutions. As the Executive Director of International Rivers, Jason will work to share these lessons learned with the global movement to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them. As International Rivers moves into its next 25 years, Jason brings the right mix of community organizing, strategic vision, creativity, and hard-nosed advocacy to forge a healthy future for the organization.

Jason earned an M.A. from New College of California’s program in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Communities; studied at the School for Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington; and earned his B.A. in History & Government with an emphasis on international economic development from Claremont McKenna College in California.