Strife at Sierra Club as staff fears more layoffs 

By Robin Bravender | 05/02/2024 01:27 PM EDT

It feels like “an organization imploding,” said one longtime employee. 

Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous during an interview.

Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous during an interview at the Sierra Club's offices in Washington on Oct. 26, 2023. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Messy infighting persists inside the Sierra Club, where employees are feuding with their boss, staff fear layoffs for the second straight year and the internal strife regularly spills out into the press.

Discord within the storied environmental organization has flared up periodically since Sierra Club CEO Ben Jealous took the reins of the group last year. He soon initiated layoffs, launched a restructuring effort and accused the organization’s staff union of spreading lies about him.

Jealous has defended his efforts as necessary steps to manage a budget shortfall and to best position the organization to achieve its environmental mission.


More than a year after Jealous took over last February, Sierra Club employees say morale remains in the gutter. Staff accuse Jealous of insulating himself with highly paid executive staff as he conducted layoffs. Employees are worried that another round of layoffs is coming soon. And staffers say they fear for the organization’s long-term ability to accomplish its mission.