The Board of Directors of Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMCG) has named Matt Howe of Casco, Maine as the organization’s new Executive Director. He succeeds Blair Folts, a GMCG co-founder, who has held the position since 1997. Following a three-week transition and orientation process, Mr. Howe became Executive Director on December 16, 2019. He will lead the organization into a new decade of land and water protection.
Under Ms. Folts’ leadership, GMCG grew from a “kitchen table” effort to a widely respected guardian of the Ossipee Aquifer, an advocate for responsible land management, a leader in local environmental education, and a land trust with fee ownership and conservation easements on over 2,000 acres in the Ossipee watershed. For 22 years she passionately voiced the message of REAL, the braid of Research, Education, Advocacy, and Land conservation that underscores GMCG’s collaborative approach to natural resource protection in the seven town watershed region.
"Change is always hard, and after over two decades of inspired leadership from our present Executive Director, Blair Folts, we welcome Matt Howe as our new leader,” said Larry Wogman of Ossipee, Chairman of the GMCG Board of Directors. “When Blair decided to get back to her artistic pursuits, we were faced with a great loss to our organization. However, through a careful search process with a number of fine candidates, Matt emerged as our choice. His background, interests, and interpersonal skills are the right combination to sustain the organization as an environmental force and to help link our future growth with the needs and desires of our community. The board looks forward to introducing Matt to the people and organizations throughout the watershed with whom we work to protect the land and water of this wonderful region we call home.”
Mr. Howe comes to GMCG with over 25 years of nonprofit executive director experience and a lifelong devotion to the outdoors and environmental protection. As an executive and volunteer with local, state, and national organizations, he has a variety of proficiencies in management, fundraising, communications, and relationship building.
For twenty years Mr. Howe’s work focused on the expansion and enrichment of employee workplace giving, both in Maine and nationally. As Executive Director of Augusta-based MaineShare from 1990-1999, he helped build a new philanthropic resource that provided a way for working people to contribute to environmental and social justice causes when they “give at the office.” From 2000 to 2009 he led the National Alliance for Choice in Giving (NACG), working in a variety of ways to revitalize and diversify America’s workplace giving tradition.
Raised in Maryland, he is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received his M.A. in Public Policy from Tufts University. An avid angler, he learned to fish on Squam Lake and caught his first brook trout on Hall Pond in Sandwich Notch. During college he was a fly-fishing guide in Idaho.
From 1989 to 2009, Mr. Howe served on the Board of Directors of Rockywold Deephaven Camps (RDC), a family summer camp on Squam Lake co-founded in 1897 by his great grandmother. In that capacity he chaired their Environmental and Community Affairs Committee and helped launch and guide RDC’s “Squam Environmental Preservation Fund,” a donor-advised fund hosted by the NH Charitable Foundation that makes annual grants to support land conservation and habitat protection in the Squam Basin. He was also on the board of Friends of Scarborough Marsh in Scarborough, ME for six years, where he was an active member of their development committee and served two years as board president.
More recently Mr. Howe served fours years as Executive Director of the Maine Recreation and Parks Association, where he provided an array of management services for Maine’s park and recreation professionals and coordinated the association’s advocacy efforts on behalf of the federal Land and Water Conservation Program. He also was the owner and operator of a sushi company in South Portland, ME, Sushi Maine LLC, for several years and enjoyed two years as a chef at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, ME.
To support his introduction to GMCG, the Board of Directors appointed an Executive Director Transition Team under the facilitation of former board chair, Noreen Downs of Madison. Ms. Downs notes that in tandem with the change in staff leadership, the board will work to build a more robust slate of committees, promote active board involvement, and engage community volunteers in GMCG’s education, advocacy, and fundraising. Ms. Downs states “We are turning a new chapter for this organization. The board is ready to work with the new Executive Director and looks to the future with renewed emphasis on leading and governing.”
“I am ready and eager to serve the Green Mountain Conservation Group,” said Mr. Howe. “From both a personal and professional perspective I am drawn to the GMCG mission and energized by the enthusiasm and commitment of our staff, board, volunteers, and generous donors who have built this exceptional organization. It is an honor to join all of you in the essential work of protecting the Ossipee Aquifer for future generations, promoting wise land use, and inspiring youth across the watershed to be informed and engaged stewards of their land and water."
In early 2020 the community will be invited to join the board and staff for an Open House to welcome Matt Howe to GMCG and to the Ossipee watershed. Matt looks forward to meeting and learning from GMCG members and friends, municipal officials, business owners, and all those interested in GMCG's work. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.