By Mary Topa : Executive Director
It is hard to believe that I have been at ForestWatch for almost six years. It seems like it was just yesterday that I packed up my house in Ohio, loaded my two Australian shepherds in the Passat wagon, and headed to beautiful north Georgia. Many of you know that I was an academic scientist for 30 years, and wanted to finish my career working for an environmental nonprofit. I have always been passionate about protecting Appalachian mountain forests, so being Executive Director of ForestWatch has been a dream job for me. That is why the decision I have made to retire in 2018 is so bittersweet.
I have been honored to serve as Executive Director of ForestWatch, but I am ready to slow down a little and embrace the opportunities that retirement presents. I will leave ForestWatch with an affection, admiration and respect for all the people I have worked with during the past six years. ForestWatch is truly an exceptional and highly effective organization. Our dogged tenacity, fearlessness and expertise have helped us win many fights, but it is the passion and dedication of our hard-working staff, District Leaders, Board members, advisors and members that help us stay the course. Our wins would also not be possible without the support of the many donors, foundations and partners who believe in the important role ForestWatch plays in protecting Georgia’s national forests. This role will be even more critical as the revision of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest Plan starts in a couple of years.
Because I am retiring, I will stay at ForestWatch until a new Executive Director is chosen. The Georgia ForestWatch Board and staff will work together during the next three to four months to make this transition as smooth as possible. A six-member Search Committee led by Ted Doll has drafted and posted job ads on appropriate websites. If you or someone you know might be interested in the Executive Director position, please send inquiries to email@example.com or call the office at 706-867-0051. The Search Committee hopes to start conducting candidate interviews by April and will be accepting applications until then. The full job announcement can be found here.
In other leadership news, after a concerted recruitment period last fall, six new members joined the Georgia ForestWatch Board in January, bringing our total members up to 15. Five have been long-time ForestWatch members, and all bring different skill sets. We are very excited to welcome Tom Colkett, Marie Dunkle, Tom MacMillan, Trushar Mody, Denny Rhodes and Melanie Vickers to our Board. Thank you all for volunteering your time and expertise! We will provide more information on our new Board members in the Spring issue of Forest News.