My New Leadership Role at the National Whistleblower Center

by John Kostyack

Published on March 31, 2021

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My New Leadership Role at the National Whistleblower Center

In the past two years as Executive Director of NWC, I have had the privilege of running one of the world’s most important whistleblower organizations and recruiting and leading an outstanding team of staff and consultants. Together, we have made important progress on strengthening whistleblower protections, providing assistance to whistleblowers and educating decision makers and the public about whistleblowers’ invaluable contributions to society. A key part of this work has been pioneering new ways that whistleblowers can help combat climate change.

This climate change work has opened my eyes, and the eyes of NWC’s Board of Directors, to new and exciting ways that I can help advance NWCs mission. Effective today, I begin work as NWC’s Senior Director of Environmental Innovation. Going forward, I will focus exclusively on combatting climate change and protecting the environment, which have long been my passions.

The Biden Administration’s “whole-of-government” approach to climate change creates an unprecedented opportunity for whistleblowers. Executive branch agencies need immediate assistance implementing their legal authorities relating to climate change, including the anti-corruption laws that depend so heavily on whistleblowers for their success. My top priorities in my new role will be expanding NWC’s work with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Department of Justice and other key agencies to tackle climate-related corruption through precedent-setting enforcement actions. 

I will also expand NWC’s collaborations with whistleblowers, whistleblower attorneys, NGOs and legal scholars to identify the most problematic corruption trends in the industries driving climate change and ramp up confidential whistleblower disclosures to address these trends. In the past year, the NWC team and I have assisted five confidential whistleblowers with evidence of corruption in the oil and gas, coal and industrial logging industries in securing counsel and connecting with law enforcement authorities. Many more will benefit from NWC’s assistance with this new focused effort. 

Whistleblowers are essential to implementing climate solutions. Around the world, powerful, entrenched private-sector actors with carbon-dependent business models are delaying the shift to affordable clean energy technologies through fraud, bribery and other forms of corruption. Action by whistleblowers to address this corruption is especially needed in the fossil fuel sector which, as NWC explained in its Exposing a Ticking Time Bomb report last year, is concealing climate-related financial risks that jeopardize the economy. Whistleblowers are also needed in the banking, insurance, auditing and other sectors to help expose similar concealment.   

I leave NWC management in good hands, with Mary Jane Wilmoth, NWC Board member, serving as interim Executive Director. Ms. Wilmoth, has worked with NWC over the past 28 years in several capacities, including serving as CFO. NWC Board Chairman Stephen Kohn will continue to guide NWC’s policy advocacy. I look forward to supporting them.

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