National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Welcomes Peggy Knudson as New Vice President of Development

Silver Spring, Md. – February 20, 2024The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is pleased to announce that Peggy Knudson, a visionary fundraiser and grant-maker with over 25 years of experience, has been named the Foundation’s new Vice President of Development, effective January 2024.  

In this newly created role, Knudson will re-envision the Foundation’s expanded Development department and serve as a critical member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team. She will work closely with the Board of Trustees and Chapter Directors to advise and set an organization-wide vision and fundraising strategy for the transformation of Foundation giving at an exciting time for sanctuaries, on the threshold of several new sanctuary designations that could double the total area of our protected waters. Knudson will amplify and build support for the Foundation’s work showcasing sanctuaries as sources of solutions to address the most pressing conservation challenges of our time, on a national level. 

Joel Johnson, Foundation president and CEO, said “We are thrilled to welcome a seasoned fundraiser like Peggy to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation at this critical point in our history, when the opportunities for nongovernmental donors—individuals, foundations, and corporations—to engage with us to support the sanctuaries are growing exponentially.” 

Knudson has served in a variety of leadership roles at nonprofit organizations, including most recently as Vice President of Development at the Nuclear Threat Initiative; at the Brookings Institution, where she was director of development for Foreign Policy; at the Center for American Progress, where she was senior vice president for development; at Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, where she was vice president for development; and at ecoAmerica, an organization dedicated to getting everyday Americans on board with climate solutions, where she was vice president for development and a member of the Executive Management Team. 

She started her career at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, where she was promoted to acting director of the Fund’s Berlin office in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has also been executive director of Women in International Security, an organization dedicated to promoting women as decision makers in foreign and defense affairs. 

Peggy has an M.A. in European studies and economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in journalism and English from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks.  She is fluent in German and lives in Washington, D.C.


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve cultural and maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at 


Contact: Chip Weiskotten 

Director of Strategic Communications