Kay Carlson

Executive Director at The Nature Center at Shaker Lakes in Cleveland, OH

Kay Carlson has served as President and CEO of the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, located in Shaker Heights, Ohio, since June 2008. Founded in 1966 as part of a grassroots effort to prevent construction of a freeway through the Shaker Parklands, the Nature Center is a private, nonprofit organization which now serves over 15,000 students per year with their innovative environmental education programs and hosts over 40,000 visitors per year on its 20 acre site, including 2 trail systems and 5 different habitat types. With over 30 years of experience in nonprofit and natural resources management and a passion for the environment, Kay has helped to turn around and grow the Nature Center from a $350K deficit situation to a thriving organization with a $1.8M budget and over 30 staff. In 2015-2016, Kay led the organization through a successful year-long celebration of the Center’s 50th anniversary, and has recently completed a five-year, $6.2M capital campaign to restore and enhance the Center’s outdoor classroom — the collection of trails, habitats and outdoor facilities that serve students and visitors alike.

Kay has a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Duke University and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology from Connecticut College. She enjoys sailing, skiing, swimming, walking, yoga and scuba diving. Kay is a native of Cleveland Heights and now resides in Chagrin Falls with her husband, Rick Albaugh.

Kay says of ANCA: “I recently celebrated my 14-year anniversary as President & CEO for the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, and I never would have made it this long without the amazing learning experiences and support I have received through involvement with ANCA. I have been extremely impressed by the caliber of people working for nature centers across the U.S. (and now globally!), and have learned so much from my nature center colleagues over the past 14 years, which is why I joined the Board in 2014. I believe that the reason there are so many good leaders working for nature centers is largely due to the targeted professional development provided by ANCA. It is critical to have the national support of a network of seasoned nature center administrators in order to move all nature centers forward.”