David Naftzger, Executive Director
David Naftzger serves as the chief executive officer of the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers. The Conference unites eight U.S. Governors and two Canadian Premiers working together to grow the region’s $6 trillion economy and protect its world-class environment.
David manages thirteen foreign trade offices, the regional maritime transportation collaboration and the Great Lakes tourism partnership. He also spearheads an award-winning environmental program to protect about 20% of the world’s surface fresh water. He drove the region’s historic water accords including the “Great Lakes Compact” to successful completion. David also helped lead the partnership that has resulted in $2 billion in new federal funding to protect and restore the Great Lakes.
David directs the Conference’s communications and serves as spokesperson. He has been widely quoted by media including The Economist, New York Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and many others. He also directs government relations with the Congress, Administration, State legislatures, Tribal and local governments. David’s work builds on his twelve years of experience leading the Council of Great Lakes Governors.
Separately, David was an elected official serving as a City Councilman in Highland Park, Illinois. He served more than 30,000 residents, made local policy and helped steer a $70 million budget.
David is a former consultant and worked with a national initiative to improve public health through increased calcium intake. Prior to that, he was a government relations director for the National Conference of State Legislatures in Washington, D.C.
David earned a Master’s degree in Economics from the London School of Economics. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from DePauw University and studied at the University of Freiburg, Germany.