April 21, 2011
Williston resident takes reins of new regional chapter of SocietyBy Adam White Observer staff
Like a through-hiker huddled beneath a lean-to during a thunderstorm, Ben Rose is waiting for the right opportunity to embark on the next leg of his journey.
Williston’s Rose became the new northeast regional director for The Wilderness Society last month, after 12 years as executive director of the Green Mountain Club. He has since been holding down a desk at the Youth Conservation Corps’ Richmond office, until a location can be found for TWS’s new regional nerve center – a process that he says must happen in due time.
“We have a number of things we need to explore before we put down our roots,” Rose said last week, during a break in leadership training at TWS’s national offices in Washington, D.C. “Right now, I have a fire hose of information pouring out on me, and I’m trying to absorb it like a sponge.”
Rose has a tough act to follow as he takes over the Wilderness Society’s Northeast director position from Leanne Klyza Linck. During her five years in the position, Linck was the chief architect of the legislative strategy that led to passage in 2006 of the New England Wilderness Act, which permanently protected 76,500 acres in the Green Mountain and White Mountain National forests.
It was during that process that Linck met Rose. She was “impressed by his understanding of the importance of wilderness,” and she recognized in him some of the qualities necessary for success in what was then her position.
“Ben is someone who can sit down with people with very different views and backgrounds and have a conversation with them,” Linck said. “He’s not a polarizing person; he’s very reasonable and approachable.”
Rose is the third Vermonter within the Northeast program’s administration, along with Hinesburg’s Klinck – who will now serve as the organization’s vice president for Eastern conservation – and Ann Ingerson, a resource economist from Craftsbury. Rose said several aspects of the regional program still need to be ironed out before an ideal location for the new headquarters can be determined.
Even with a full plate, Rose said that he fits well into TWS during what he described as a “turbulent time” for the organization.
“I tolerate ambiguity well,” Rose said. “I don’t mind being in a complex organizational matrix.”
Protecting the environment isn’t just a career choice for Rose; it is also an issue that hits close to home for the longtime Williston resident.
Jessica Andreoletti, the town’s staff liaison to the Conservation Commission, recalled Rose’s involvement in the WING (Williston Into the Next Generations) Initiative in 2008, when he advised local residents about the best political mechanisms through which to accomplish their goals and have their voices heard.
“Ben is always in the loop, involved with the movers and shakers when it comes to environmental issues and the town,” Andreoletti said. “He’s an advocate, and he pays a lot of attention to what people around him are saying.”
Matt Larson has served as interim executive director at the Green Mountain Club since Rose resigned the position effective March 19. Larson said that Rose “left the Green Mountain Club in great shape,” making its transition to a new full-time leader easier while leaving behind a legacy to live up to.
“I think whoever comes in next is going to have some big shoes to fill,” said Larson, citing Rose’s work on the GMC’s multi-million-dollar Second Century Campaign as a significant accomplishment within his 12-year tenure as leader of the Vermont organization. Rose was also involved in dozens of land conservation deals as well as several major upkeep and improvement projects along Vermont’s Long Trail with the Club.
The Green Mountain Club is a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining Vermont’s 273-mile Long Trail. The Club is centered in a new headquarters off Route 100 in Waterbury, the construction of which came to fruition while Rose was in charge.
The Wilderness Society is the nation’s leading conservation organization, committed to protecting the 635 million acres of public lands in the United States. Since its founding in 1935, the Society has been instrumental in the protection of 110 million acres of designated wilderness in 44 states.