When some of the most challenging marine mammal conservation dilemmas arise, David C. Phillips ’78 responds with expert-based, innovative solutions. His organization, Earth Island Institute, has taken on 65 national and international conservation action projects.

David led a decade-long campaign that resulted in the adoption of dolphin-safe tuna fishing policies, reducing international dolphin mortality by more than 95 percent. Time magazine cited the campaign as one of the most significant environmental victories of the decade and David was recognized for these efforts with the Leadership Award by the United Nations Environment Programme.

In 1995, David founded the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation, successfully overseeing a four-nation, $15 million international campaign to attempt the first-ever rescue, rehabilitation, and return of a captive orca whale to its home. David was awarded the Joseph Wood Krutch Medal by the Humane Society in 1995. His work is the subject of “The Cove,” a 2009 documentary that won an Academy Award.

David credits Professor Emeritus of Biology Richard Beidleman, Professor Emeritus of Physics Val Veirs, and Professor Emeritus of Physics and former Dean Richard Bradley as critical mentors at CC and inspirations for his career path.

In 2014, he was honored with the  Louis T. Benezet Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in one’s chosen field, excellence through unusual success or contribution, innovation or research that has advanced a profession or a cause, and/or extraordinary contributions and achievements that have impacted people’s lives and exemplify the values of a liberal arts education. These attributes characterized the important contributions of the late Louis T. Benezet, president of Colorado College from 1955-63.