David Ullrich | wisconsinacademy.org
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David Ullrich

Advocate / Public Servant

  • Fellow
  • 2024
Conservation, Environmental Science, Science, Water Resource Management

Dave Ullrich’s career of over 50 years in public service, non-profit leadership, and volunteer work has led to significant improvements in the Wisconsin environment. After growing up amidst the lakes and forests of Northern Wisconsin and earning a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, Ullrich dedicated his life to the protection and restoration of the planet, with an emphasis on Wisconsin.

Ullrich successfully integrated the personalities and skills of engineers, scientists, government agency staff, and elected officials, into a cooperative and collaborative approach to addressing major environmental challenges. Upon receiving his law degree in 1973, Ullrich embarked on an illustrious career with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His initial contributions included developing Clean Water Act permits for pollution reduction for seventeen pulp and paper mills on the Wisconsin River. In 2003, Ullrich began to apply his environmental expertise in the non-profit sector as the first Executive Director of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (Cities Initiative).

From representing just fifteen cities at the start, the Cities Initiative quickly became a strong voice for 130 cities with a combined population of over 17 million people. Wisconsin mayors along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior were actively engaged in the organization and assumed leadership positions.  Their involvement helped advance the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which has helped bring millions of dollars to Wisconsin communities to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for the people of Wisconsin. As a Trustee at Northland College for several years, Ullrich brings the depth of his experience in environmental and sustainability work to the Northland board’s deliberations. 

Dave also serves on the advisory board of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service (WIPPS), an affiliate organization of the University of Wisconsin System. Ullrich has also dedicated himself to integrating the arts and sciences. Camp Manitowish in Boulder Junction has been an important part of Ullrich’s life since his childhood. It was also important to his late wife, Polly Ullrich, who died in 2011 in a tragic automobile accident. As a fitting memorial to Polly, Ullrich and his son Eric have endowed the Arts and Crafts Center at the Camp to help underscore the importance of integrating art with the outdoor experience that young people receive. In addition, Dave has endowed a scholarship with the Manito Art League that recognizes young artists from Northern Wisconsin and supports them in their pursuit of a higher education.

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