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Shawn Wishes OWLT a Fond Farewell

Dear Friends,

Shawn GraffI have some bittersweet news to share with you. After thirteen years with the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust, I will be stepping down as Executive Director at the end of April to take on the role as Great Lakes Regional Director of the American Bird Conservancy. This was a difficult decision for me. I was torn between helping OWLT continue to take on amazing projects or take on a challenge with an international organization.

In the end, I realized that this day would come and that it was best to leave when OWLT was strong and positioned well to take on great work with or without me. OWLT has one of the strongest, most professional staffs in the land trust industry. Our board is committed to carrying out our organizational goals and actively engaged in our initiatives. We have an amazing corps of volunteers that form the backbone of our operation. Our organization has never been stronger than it is right now and never in a better position to build off of past successes.

The last thirteen years have been extremely rewarding to me. I’ve made so many great friends and fostered partnerships that have led to remarkable outcomes. I am pleased to have played a small part in so many incredible property deals, most notably Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, Donges Bay Gorge, Mequon Nature Preserve and soon the Cedar Heights Gorge / Clay Banks Preserve.

Thanks to the support of our staff, board, volunteers, and members OWLT is in a strong financial position. Together, we achieved national Land Trust Accreditation, surpassed 6,000 acres of protected land, partnered with several of our neighboring land trust to protect lands beyond our borders and administrated federal grants that helped remove aquatic invasive plants in a six county region.

Our board is fully engaged in the transition and has contracted Sara Wilson of Mayes Wilson & Associates to undertake a national search to recruit a new executive director that fits the culture of our organization and can lead OWLT forward. Board Member, John Capelle, will be stepping in as interim Executive Director. John is well suited to help during this transition. John is the former head of the planning department for the City of West Bend, he is the chairperson of our land conservation committee and he is well respected by our staff.

I am confident that OWLT will be able to build off our past successes and become a stronger organization. I want you to know that I am not going far. Even though I’m moving on, I will continue to live locally and will support and volunteer for OWLT where I can.

I am not sure there are enough words of thanks to express my gratitude to you for all your generous help and support over the years. Your confidence in me, and OWLT, is the reason we were so successful over the years. Your continued support will help OWLT continue to grow and continue to protect the land and water resources making our communities special places.

Thank you,

Shawn Graff