Edward M. Norton is the Founding Chair of the Conservation Lands Foundation.

Ed graduated with a B.A. in European History from Washington & Lee University in 1964, and attended Columbia University’s Russian Institute as a Woodrow Wilson Scholar.

He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1965 to 1968 and was discharged with the rank of captain.

He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1971.

Ed practiced law and from 1977 to 1981, served as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney in Maryland, prosecuting violations of federal criminal law and supervising all environmental litigation in which federal agencies were involved in the U.S. District Court for Maryland.  

In 1981, he became special counsel to The Wilderness Society, a national conservation organization in the United States. He also served as Deputy Executive Director and Director of Membership and Development for The Wilderness Society.

In 1986, Ed became the founding President of the Grand Canyon Trust, a regional conservation organization dedicated to protecting the national parks, public lands, and rivers in the Colorado Plateau. He was also the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, an organization that works to convert abandoned railroad corridors into recreational trails. Ed was a founder and leader of the Vietnam Veterans Reconciliation Project, which worked to lift the trade embargo and to establish normal relations with Vietnam.

In 1994, Ed became Vice President for Law and Public Policy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation responsible for all federal and state legislation and legal affairs for the National Trust. He served in that position until 1999, when he moved to Kunming, Yunnan Province, China to become the Senior Advisor to The Nature Conservancy’s China Program. In that role, he helped to create The Conservancy’s Yunnan Great Rivers Project to conserve biodiversity in northwest Yunnan Province and to establish a system of Nature Reserves and Protected Areas. 

Ed served as The Nature Conservancy’s Deputy Director of the Asia-Pacific Region, based in Bali, Indonesia from August 2005 to January 15, 2007, working on marine and terrestrial biodiversity conservation projects in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, China, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. He was also Senior Advisor to the USAID Orangutan Conservation Services Project in Indonesia.

From 2009 to 2019, Ed was a Senior Advisor for Environment/Social Governance with TPG Capital, a private equity firm.