The time has come! Today is my last day as president of Save the Sound. Tomorrow, October 1, our Vice President of Programs Leah Lopez Schmalz will succeed me.
As I shared in June, when we first announced this transition, Leah was the unanimous choice of our Board to lead Save the Sound into its next 50 years. That’s because they’ve seen first-hand how her visionary leadership, management skills, legal know-how, and campaign strategy expertise have made her the driving force behind cleaning our waters, restoring our rivers and coastlines, protecting endangered lands, and fighting climate change for nearly 20 years.
My three decades at Save the Sound have been full of change. When I joined then-Connecticut Fund for the Environment as a staff attorney in 1993, I couldn’t have foreseen the challenges and opportunities that would come our way.
Opportunities like the mergers of Save the Sound, CFE, and Soundkeeper, which have united skills to create a single powerful environmental advocate for every community across the Long Island Sound region. Grant opportunities that have enabled us to help monitor water quality all around the Sound and to transform struggling habitats with large-scale, job-creating nature restoration projects.
We’ve faced challenges like Shell Oil’s proposal to put a floating gas facility in the middle of the Sound, the potential loss of 15,000 acres of water company lands in Connecticut, and nitrogen from wastewater smothering our beloved Sound. We have won these and many more battles with powerful coalitions of people like you, backed by legal and scientific expertise.
Leah has been at the forefront of many of these successful campaigns, and I know I’m leaving the next challenges—and opportunities—our region will face in the best hands possible.
Your hands and voices will be equally important. I know I can trust you to stay as committed to Save the Sound as you always have been. Enormous challenges remain. Bays and harbors gasping for breath. Climate-induced flood threats and extreme heat. I know I can trust you to keep showing up. To call on our leaders for bold climate action. To clean your beaches and restore your rivers. To keep alerting us when you see water pollution or a precious piece of land at risk of development. To save our last wild places like Plum Island and to help us scale up nature-based community resilience projects.
This isn’t goodbye; after some time to step back and relax, I’m going to stay involved with Save the Sound part-time, working under Leah and Alicia Sullivan to bring all of you opportunities to participate in our ambitious strategic plan campaign. I look forward to continuing to work alongside you.
It has been my honor to serve you and the whole Long Island Sound community. Thank you to every one of you for supporting Save the Sound and my journey as your President over the past five years. It’s been the most fun, the greatest challenge, and the most rewarding opportunity of my lifetime.