David H. Festa

Advisor, Ecosystems


Areas of expertise:
Ecosystem resilience, environmental markets, sustainable agriculture, food security, habitat exchanges, natural infrastructure, natural resources management and policy, recreational and commercial fishing

David Festa is an expert on ecosystem resilience and has a long track record of bringing diverse stakeholders together to meet growing needs for food, water and shelter in ways that improve the environment and benefit the economy. As senior vice president of the Ecosystems program, David oversees EDF’s market and policy work to:

  • Expand habitat on working lands
  • Eliminate fertilizer pollution
  • Rebalance water systems
  • Build resilient coastal communities

Prior to leading the Ecosystems program, David headed up the Oceans program, where he ignited a sea change in the way fisheries are managed by winning approval for an incentives-based system called catch shares. Today 65 percent of the fish caught in U.S. water is managed sustainably under the innovative system. David launched and still serves as president of The California Fisheries Fund, a $4 million revolving loan fund that invests in sustainable fishing.

David joined EDF in 2003, and is a member of EDF’s executive team.


  • Environmental Defense Fund, Senior Vice President
  • California Fisheries Fund, President
  • Obama transition team for the U.S. Department of Commerce
  • U.S. Department of Commerce, Director of Policy and Strategy Planning during the Clinton administration
  • Center for Clean Air Policy, Deputy Director
  • Environmental Resources Management Inc., Senior Consultant
  • U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Analyst
  • The Economist, Correspondent


  • Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government: Masters of Public Policy, 1989
  • University of Virginia: Bachelor of Arts, 1983

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