Thursday, May 23, 2013
Morning Sentinel Staff
UNITY -- Russell Libby, executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, will resign Nov. 2 to become the organization's senior policy adviser.
Heather Spalding, MOFGA's deputy director, will be interim executive director.
"After 17-plus years as MOFGA's executive director, it feels like the right time to be moving to new challenges in my life," Libby said in a press release Tuesday.
Libby became MOFGA's executive director in 1995 after more than a decade on the organization's board of directors.
Under his leadership, MOFGA became the country's largest state-level organic association, with members in more than 6,500 households and businesses, 418 certified organic farms and processing operations, a 400-acre year-round education center, more than 1,500 volunteers and 32 employees, according to the release.
Libby directed the development of MOFGA's Common Ground Education Center and supervised the expansion and growth of all program areas of the organization, including agricultural services, educational events and farmer training, the Common Ground Country Fair, organic certification, publications such as MOFGA's quarterly newspaper, The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, websites, social media outlets and public policy initiatives.
Barbara Damrosch, president of MOFGA's board of directors, said, "For as long as I've been involved with MOFGA, Russell has been its head, heart and soul, and it is with deep gratitude for these years of leadership that the Board embraces his new role.
"We are thankful that he is willing to continue to lend his wisdom to all our endeavors. Our organization has grown a great deal under Russell's care, and its influence has spread far beyond the borders of Maine. His work on food policy has given the organic farmers and gardeners of our state a voice in Washington, and on the national stage in general. Everybody knows about our Common Ground Country Fair, of course, but increasingly our actions, projects and policies, year-round, are watched and imitated as well."
Damrosch said Libby began to smooth the transition some time ago.
"He guided some land acquisitions that eased our immediate growing pains, while at the same time keeping us on a firm financial footing. We are overjoyed that he will continue to steer our policy work, and that he will be available to offer us the sound advice, on matters large and small, that we have all so appreciated, for so long."
Libby has been a leader in food and agricultural policy at the state, regional, and national levels more than 30 years, according to the release.
Spalding joined the staff in 1997 after 10 years working with environmental organizations in Washington, D.C. Spalding will work closely with MOFGA's board and staff to coordinate a search for the organization's next executive director. Recruiting will begin next year.