David Yoskowitz, Ph.D. was named executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department today at a special meeting of the TPW Commission in Austin, Texas. Yoskowitz is currently the senior executive director and Endowed Chair for Socioeconomics at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.
Commissioners took action to accept the recommendation of the search committee in a public meeting. The search committee included TPW Commission Chairman Arch Aplin, and commissioners Anna Galo, Jeffery Hildebrand, and Oliver Bell.
“As an avid outdoorsman, David lives the mission of TPWD,” said Chairman Arch “Beaver” Aplin III. His business and economic acumen in the field of our cultural and natural resources will suit TPWD perfectly. David will continue a culture of inclusion with stakeholders and staff at the agency. Sixteen years at the Harte Institute in Corpus Christi has been a wonderful training ground preparing David to be our new executive director. Carter Smith will be missed immensely, but I could not be happier handing off the baton to David Yoskowitz.”
At Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Yoskowitz served in many roles including professor of environmental economics, associate director for research, policy and development, Endowed Chair for Socioeconomics, and since 2020 the senior executive director of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI). His experience as an economist and his interest in critical environmental and natural resource issues paved the way for collaboration with natural science colleagues to study the links between environmental and human well-being with a particular focus on the resilience of the Gulf of Mexico region. During his time in Corpus Christi, Yoskowitz and the HRI team of scientists and researchers worked to develop science-based solutions for pressing fisheries, watershed, coastal, and ocean challenges.
“It’s such an honor to join the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and a privilege to work alongside the talented women and men throughout the agency that dedicate themselves to conserving the natural and cultural resources, and the outdoor legacies, that make Texas such a special place,” Yoskowitz said. “As a lifelong outdoorsman, a father, and someone who has spent the last several years of my career working toward creating a better future for the Gulf of Mexico, the TPWD mission is near and dear to my heart. I am incredibly grateful for the work I’ve done for the last 16 years at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and that work has really been about developing the science, as well as some of the solutions, that help support TPWD’s mission and philosophy. I’m so excited to now be a part of the implementation of that science for present and future generations of Texans.”
Yoskowitz’s passion for pursuing connection with the natural environment reaches back to younger years when he fought forest fires and gained an appreciation for the connection between humans and nature. Yoskowitz spent much of his career as a leader on the Texas A&M Corpus Christi campus, with research extending his presence through much of North and Central America including Cuba, Nicaragua, Belize, El Salvador, and Mexico.
“This is bittersweet news for the Island University, as Dr. Yoskowitz has been an integral part of a highly successful and dedicated team at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI),” said Dr. Kelly M. Miller, President & CEO of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC). “At the same, this is an amazing opportunity for him, and his appointment to such a prestigious role brings a great deal of pride to our campus. We appreciate his service and look forward to a continued relationship with him in his new role.”
Yoskowitz served as the chief economist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2014 – 2015) where he helped develop the agency’s first Social Science Vision and Strategy. He also served on the National Research Council Committee on the Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Mississippi Canyon-252 Oil Spill on Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Mexico. He previously sat on the Socioeconomic Scientific and Statistical Committee for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. He serves on the Board of Directors of Indifly, an organization dedicated to using recreational fisheries to create sustainable livelihoods for indigenous peoples around the world.
Yoskowitz earned a Ph.D. in Economics and an M.A. in Economics from Texas Tech University, and a B.S. in Economics and Finance from Bentley College.
Carter Smith, TPWD’s current executive director, announced his retirement in June after almost 15 years of leading the department. Smith’s retirement will be effective in January 2023. Yoskowitz will be working closely with Smith, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, and other TPWD executive staff on transitioning into the role in the coming months.