The First Steps of Embracing TWI 2.0
by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

The dawn of 2022 brings with it a renewed sense that the worst of the uncertainty is behind us. It’s time to go beyond thinking about the next chapter for The Wetlands Institute and begin to implement. The past several years has been a time of remarkable growth and the achievement of excellence that brought the Institute and its programs back in line with the vision so eloquently conceived and implemented by Herbert Mills, and then advanced by Cindy O’Connor. It has been the past decade, though, that has been a time of bold reaching and achievement. Most significantly, we have assembled a top-notch team of dedicated professionals who have taken TWI forward in amazing ways. Our education programs have profoundly touched so many. Research and conservation programs have achieved incredible levels of depth, breadth, and impact. Our financial position is stronger than ever in our history, with the improbable establishment of the endowment in the midst of the challenges of the past few years.

We run a very lean organization and the continued development of the Institute requires significant investment in our infrastructure – especially the people who are the soul of the organization. In early 2020, the plan was to do just that; institutionalize the programmatic gains that were possible thanks to the stability that came with the successful endowment campaign. We all know what came next – the stress and uncertainty of two years of COVID. I am pleased to say that we have fared the ongoing storm very well. We are a sound organization, and it is long past due that we now move forward with the plans to invest in our organizational infrastructure and the people of TWI – to provide resources for everyone at the Institute to do their jobs better.

The first phase comes in staff investments that include reorganization of the leadership team. Dr. Lisa Ferguson and Brooke Knapick will guide our programs as they have tirelessly done for so long. This summer, Bonnie Girard will be retiring but will leave our administration and finance department in great shape. Our growth and the complexity of our business model, expansion, and the increasing intricacies of compliance, have led us to redefine her role into separate finance and administration positions. For years, TWI has been without leadership in the major gifts and advancement arena. We are investing in all of these areas as well as in the team of employees that got us here. We welcome Anne Brickley as Director of Administration, Julie Karavan as Director of Development, and Michelle Ruggeri as Director of Finance. You can meet them in the newsletter, and at meet-and-greet events we are planning.

Over the next year, we will be reporting on the steps we are taking to build for the sustainability of TWI – for the next 50 years. There will be investments in our people, in our building, and in the ecosystems that support and nourish us – and that we in turn support and nourish. I have never been one to shy away from giant challenges and you have come to expect no less. We are again MAKING NO SMALL PLANS. Stay tuned and learn how you can continue to be a part of it.