Michelle Lakly
Managing Director, Saving Rivers, The Nature Conservancy


Michelle ‘Shelly’ Lakly has been with The Nature Conservancy for over eight years and has served in the roles of State Director in Georgia and Florida, the Eastern Division Director for North America Region and now the role of Managing Director of the Saving Rivers Strategy.

A scientist by training, Shelly holds a Ph.D. in Ecology, a Master’s degree in Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology—all from the University of Georgia’s Institute of Ecology. Shelly is an entomologist and her doctoral research was focused on aquatic restoration ecology.

Prior to joining the Conservancy in 2007, Shelly served as Vice President of Education and Conservation Programs at Zoo Atlanta, working to advance conservation work around the world. She has been honored to have the opportunity work with Maasai women in Kenya, and conduct wildlife surveys in Mongolia. While at Zoo Atlanta, Shelly and her family spent a significant amount of time living in Chengdu, China, where Shelly worked as Director of the Academy for Conservation Training, creating the first training program for conservation in zoos and aquariums across China.

Shelly and her husband—along with their identical twin boys—currently live in Peachtree City, Georgia.