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Letters from the Presidents

As much as it’s been an honor to serve as ELA’s President, I have to admit that I’ve had it pretty easy. When my term began, we were already expanding our programming and extending our geographical reach; we were already bringing together exciting speakers and well-informed audiences; and we already benefitted from an engaged membership, a dedicated volunteer board, and the inspired leadership of Executive Director Penny Lewis and Executive Assistant Maureen Sundberg.

All of this is still true. Covid-19, of course, is a huge challenge for any nonprofit, but under Penny’s leadership ELA has adapted quickly to the new environment. We started introducing new online programs way back in March; we are retooling our summer and fall programs to make good use of online formats; and we continue to expand our membership.

As we move ahead, ELA will be well served by its new board leadership. Rie Macchiarolo (incoming President), Mark Highland (incoming Vice President), Michael Opton (Treasurer), and Dan Jaffe Wilder (incoming Secretary) each embody the clear-eyed mix of idealism and pragmatism that has made ELA unique, and together they will guide ELA with commitment, creativity, and collegiality.

ELA is an organization, a community, and a movement. Everything we do is propelled by our members’ curiosity, generosity, and sense of purpose. Thank you for your participation in ELA; I can’t wait to see where you take us next.

Toby Wolf
Outgoing Board President

I think we can all say that 2020 will be a year to remember. It’s hard to believe how many aspects of our work and personal lives have changed since many of us last saw one another at the Annual Conference in March. Just like a well-designed landscape, ELA has adapted to meet the needs of the organization and membership during this trying time in a changing and uncertain landscape.

Thanks to all of you who have played a role in the organization’s history. We are a better organization because of the community we have built together. The suggestions, the conversations, the recommendations, the volunteering, the networking, the skill and knowledge sharing, and the funding — all of this is critical to the continued growth, reach, and impact the ELA has on the larger landcare community. I’m looking forward to the years ahead during which we’ll continue to provide top-notch educational experiences, to offer opportunities for members to be more involved, and to grow our membership to support the growth of the organization.

We are a part of a growing movement in the landcare community. What all of us (and each of you!) do to improve ecosystems, promote native plants, provide pollinator food and habitat, protect vulnerable species, reduce water consumption, protect waterways, and advocate for sustainable landcare practices is so important to our home here on Earth. Now, more than ever, I’m grateful to be a part of this community and look forward to what we’ll achieve together in the years ahead.

Rie Macchiarolo
Incoming Board President (pronouns: they/them)