Nat­u­ral Lands con­ser­va­tion group taps Bass as its new boss

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

ME­DIA >> Nat­u­ral Lands, the re­gion’s largest con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion, has an­nounced that ef­fec­tive Jan. 1, 2019, Oliver Bass will be­come its next pres­i­dent. Bass, cur­rently vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment, suc­ceeds Molly Mor­ri­son, who will re­tire at the end of the year af­ter a 14-year ten­ure in the role.

“We un­der­took a rig­or­ous, six-month, na­tional search and se­lec­tion process man­aged by the Bos­ton-based firm Isaac­sonMiller,” said Peter Haus­mann, chair­man of the Board of Trustees and the Search Com­mit­tee. “Oliver dis­tin­guished him­self as the can­di­date best suited to stew­ard Nat­u­ral Lands’ vi­sion, cul­ture, strate­gic di­rec­tion, and record of suc­cess. The Search Com­mit­tee was unan­i­mous in its en­thu­si­asm for his lead­er­ship and con­fi­dent in his abil­ity to take the reins from Molly—with whom he has worked closely for nearly two decades—to guide us into the fu­ture.”

“While we can take im­mense pride in our past ac­com­plish­ments,” con­tin­ued Haus­mann, “to re­main rel­e­vant, Nat­u­ral Lands’ fu­ture—which will con­tinue to em­pha­size the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s tra­di­tional strengths in sav­ing open space, car­ing for na­ture, and con­nect­ing peo­ple to the out­doors— must in­cor­po­rate new au­di­ences and ex­panded def­i­ni­tions of con­ser­va­tion. Since he joined the staff in the late 1990s, Oliver has been at the heart of Nat­u­ral Lands’ ef­forts to open doors to na­ture en­gage­ment. He will con­tinue to make it an or­ga­ni­za­tional pri­or­ity.”

Bass has worked at Nat­u­ral Lands for 21 years, the last seven as vice pres­i­dent of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment, a po­si­tion cre­ated to bring greater em­pha­sis to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s evolv­ing ef­forts to con­nect more peo­ple to the out­doors through its re­gional net­work of na­ture pre­serves. Bass took an en­trepreneurial ap­proach to his role: es­tab­lish­ing a new depart­ment, greatly ex­pand­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in pub­lic pro­grams and vol­un­teerism, el­e­vat­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pub­lic pro­file, and launch­ing a new ini­tia­tive to im­prove eq­ui­table ac­cess to green spa­ces in un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties of our re­gion’s sub­urbs. As a re­sult, vis­i­ta­tion to pre­serves has grown by 220 per­cent to 120,000 peo­ple a year; more than 100 pro­grams each year are at­tract­ing 5,000 par­tic­i­pants; the Force of Na­ture pro­gram has grad­u­ated 200 vol­un­teers; and over­all vol­un­teer par­tic­i­pa­tion has dou­bled to more than 5,000 hours an­nu­ally.

“As a mem­ber of the Board of Trustees, I have ad­mired and ap­pre­ci­ated the art­ful and strate­gic man­ner in which Oliver builds con­stituen­cies and part­ner­ships for con­ser­va­tion in our re­gion,” said Jane Pep­per, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Penn­syl­va­nia Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety and a mem­ber of the Search Com­mit­tee. “Work­ing with partners, he ini­ti­ated a highly col­lab­o­ra­tive, pub­lic-pri­vate ef­fort to re­vi­tal­ize parks and pro­gram out­door spa­ces in Coatesville. He has also de­vel­oped the Pow­ered by Na­ture ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram that is pro­vid­ing an in­no­va­tive out­door ed­u­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence for all 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in Pottstown School Dis­trict. In these and many other ar­eas, Oliver has earned and en­joyed the re­spect of oth­ers, which re­flects well on him and on Nat­u­ral Lands.”

“I could not be more thrilled that Oliver has been se­lected as Nat­u­ral Lands’ next pres­i­dent,” added cur­rent Pres­i­dent Molly Mor­ri­son. “As a mem­ber of the se­nior man­age­ment team, he has been in­ti­mately in­volved in or­ga­ni­za­tional pol­icy set­ting, fi­nan­cial and op­er­a­tional man­age­ment, and staff de­vel­op­ment. His spe­cific guid­ance in evolv­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s strate­gic ap­proach to con­nect­ing peo­ple to the out­doors

and to en­gag­ing younger and more di­verse au­di­ences is po­si­tion­ing Nat­u­ral Lands well to serve the re­gion into the fu­ture. He is a per­fect fit for our staff of 80-plus, whose es­teem and sup­port he has as he steps into his new role.”

Bass takes the reins at Nat­u­ral Lands dur­ing a pe­riod of re­mark­able growth. Over the last decade, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has pre­served per­ma­nently more than 32,000 acres of open space in east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia and south­ern New Jersey. This in­cludes land­mark ad­di­tions to its net­work of 44 na­ture pre­serves such as the 1,282-acre Ch­esLen Pre­serve in Ch­ester County; the 3,565-acre Bear Creek Pre­serve in Lack­awanna County; Nat­u­ral Lands’ first Berks County prop­erty, the 201-acre Green Hills Pre­serve; and the or­ga­ni­za­tions’ first pub­lic gar­den, Stoneleigh: A Nat­u­ral Gar­den in Mont­gomery County. Hav­ing suc­cess­fully pre­served the en­tire 1,505-acre Bryn Coed Farms in Ch­ester Springs,

Ch­ester County, in 2017, Nat­u­ral Lands is poised to open its new 520-acre Bryn Coed Pre­serve later this year.

“Nat­u­ral Lands is an ex­cep­tion­ally ef­fec­tive and suc­cess­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion with a sea­soned se­nior man­age­ment team, a na­tion­ally re­garded staff, a knowl­edge­able and en­gaged Board of Trustees, and a loyal and ded­i­cated base of sup­port­ers and vol­un­teers,” said Bass. “I am hon­ored and hum­bled to have been given the op­por­tu­nity to serve as Nat­u­ral Lands’ next pres­i­dent.”

Bass, who grew up in ru­ral east Texas, grad­u­ated from North­west­ern Univer­sity in Evanston, Illi­nois. Early in his ca­reer, he held fundrais­ing po­si­tions with West Vir­ginia Pub­lic Ra­dio and WXPN-FM pub­lic ra­dio in Philadel­phia. He spent five years work­ing in the per­form­ing arts com­mu­nity in Philadel­phia prior to com­ing to Nat­u­ral Lands.

“Grow­ing up, I spent much of my youth out­doors,” said Bass. “The east Texas forests of yel­low pine were my back­yard and the large wooded lot next to our house was my play­ground. My friends and I had the free­dom to ex­plore the nearby creeks, climb trees, build forts, and get dirty. Na­ture be­came a place of play, dis­cov­ery, and joy. Nat­u­ral Lands has af­forded me the op­por­tu­nity to in­vest my ca­reer in pro­vid­ing places where oth­ers can have the same chance to en­joy and learn from na­ture.”

“Our mis­sion—to save open space, care for na­ture, and con­nect peo­ple to the out­doors—has a tan­gi­ble and per­ma­nent im­pact on the en­vi­ron­men­tal, eco­nomic, and so­cial health of our re­gion,” Bass con­tin­ued. “There is noth­ing I can imag­ine to be more ful­fill­ing than work­ing along­side the board and my re­mark­able col­leagues to ex­tend these ben­e­fits to even more of the re­gion’s com­mu­ni­ties.”

Oliver Bass

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