We can see the coming changes in the world around us – cooler weather, leaves changing color and the winter cycle of our gardens. So it is for leadership at Freshwater, a season for change.
I have shared with the Freshwater Board of Directors that December 31, 2022 will be my last day as executive director. It is bittersweet ending my run; we have a wonderful organization making important strides forward. You – our members, donors, stewards, and partners – are amazing. Likewise, the staff and board have incredible passion for our mission. I depart for personal reasons – I find myself wanting more time to enjoy our four grandchildren and other life projects and priorities.
I joined Freshwater in March 2019 after a four-decade career in environmental regulatory work in state government, most notably as the longest serving Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency within Governor Mark Dayton’s administration. When I joined Freshwater, my goals were to build capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion and to expand our reach across Minnesota and the Great Lakes. It is a pleasure to reflect on that progress, even after the unforeseen challenge of COVID-19.
When the pandemic struck, my new focus became to guide Freshwater through that uncertainty by keeping the team safe and intact, and building tools to buoy us in those challenging early days. It has been an honor to work among such dedicated people that have kept us a creative force for progress throughout it all. I am proud of our team and their accomplishments during my time here:
- Expanding our activities to the Great Lakes region with our study of groundwater governance
- Passing state legislation to increase water storage in the Minnesota River Basin
- Bringing on board the Adopt a River program, a longstanding shoreline cleanup program that engages community volunteers
- Launching Art for Water, an artist-focused initiative within our Minnesota Water Stewards program
- Navigating the tumultuous waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even doubling our membership and developing engaging virtual fundraising experiences thanks to such a supportive community – you
- Improving internal systems for staff and board engagement, strategic planning, and program development
- Growing our board membership by 60-percent and increasing board diversity and representation
- Launching an organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment and training project to strengthen our commitment to environmental justice
This month, the board and executive committee, under the capable leadership of Board Chair Ryan Godfrey, are finalizing our executive search process in consultation with seasoned nonprofit leader, Meleah Houseknecht of Emergence Consulting. The board and staff are thoughtfully preparing for the transition and remain deeply committed to the future. We commit to remaining true to our mission, vision, and values, as we turn the page to our next chapter – to our role as a leading voice for science, policy, and community engagement for water health and resilience in Minnesota.
It has been a true honor to serve as part of this organization with a legacy that spans over fifty years. The need to protect and restore clean, safe, and reliable fresh water has never been greater. I will remain among you as a member for my lifetime. Thank you for supporting Freshwater!
John Linc Stine
Freshwater Executive Director