Announcing new leadership to advance innovative climate science and policy initiatives

Dr. Max Holmes promoted to President and CEO; Dr. Phil Duffy to assume strategic leadership role upon completion of assignment in White House OSTP.

Woodwell main building

Woodwell Climate Research Center announced today that Dr. Robert Max Holmes has been promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Dr. Holmes succeeds Dr. Philip Duffy, who has been asked to extend his assignment as Climate Science Advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“This is a win-win for Woodwell Climate Research Center and for climate progress writ large. This transition provides the strong, stable leadership Woodwell Climate needs during a period of growth and opportunity, as well as the deep policy engagement that advances our mission. We offer both Max and Phil our congratulations and full support,” said Dr. C. Gail Greenwald, Chair of the Woodwell Board of Directors.

Dr. Holmes joined Woodwell Climate in 2005. He has led several large river research networks, including Arctic Great Rivers Observatory, Global Rivers Observatory, Cape Cod Rivers Observatory, and most recently, Science on the Fly. He served as Deputy Director for five years prior to taking on the role of Acting President and Executive Director last August, when Dr. Duffy was invited to join the Biden administration’s climate policy efforts. Over the past ten months, he has led the Center through the most dramatic growth in its history, as well as the continuing challenges of COVID, and the transition to a long-term hybrid organization.

“I’m thrilled to be at the helm of this remarkable organization at this important moment,” said Dr. Holmes. “The urgency of addressing climate change has never been greater. We look forward to Phil’s return to Woodwell, but the nation and the world are incredibly fortunate to have him in the White House.”

Dr. Duffy was named Climate Science Advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Climate and Environment Division in August, 2021. He is currently spearheading a portfolio of federal climate policy initiatives, and has been asked to remain at OSTP and take on the leadership of several critical priorities. He will assume a special strategic leadership role upon his return to Woodwell Climate.

“I am happy to have been offered the opportunity to continue to serve in Washington, and it is gratifying to see Woodwell continue to grow and thrive,” said Dr. Duffy.

Dr. Duffy’s assignment marks the second time Woodwell Climate’s leadership has been tapped by the White House for climate science guidance. Dr. John Holdren was president and executive director of the Center prior to becoming President Obama’s Chief Science and Technology Advisor and the Senate-confirmed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2017, he returned to serve as a Senior Advisor to the President of Woodwell Climate.