A Letter to the Community
from Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell
Update on Our Casco Baykeeper Transition
As Friends of Casco Bay’s 25th Anniversary year began to draw to a close, we experienced a unique occurrence, one that has defined a seminal shift in our focus internally and in our image externally. As a loyal Friend of the Bay, you probably know by now that after almost 24 years on the job, Joe Payne, Friends of Casco Bay’s first employee and our chief public advocate and spokesperson for the Bay, retired from being Casco Baykeeper. Once Joe made his decision, we rallied with an all-hands-on-deck response, bestowed upon him the honorific Casco Baykeeper, Emeritus, created a fund for advocacy in his honor, and gave him a grand sendoff. Joe’s retirement party was a true testament to all he has helped our organization accomplish, as he was presented with numerous awards, including recognition from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Maine Department of Environmental Protection; he was even presented with a Key to the City of Portland.
“What happens now?” you may be asking . . .
We need to find the next Casco Baykeeper, someone who will be our public advocate for the Bay and a key part of our ensemble. To that end, we have engaged in three primary tasks.
First, I have reassigned a variety of Baykeeping duties to various members of the staff, myself included, to be sure that we are attending to the fundamentals during this interim period. The Board of Friends of Casco Bay has appointed me Interim Casco Baykeeper so that we continue to have an identified person with whom the public can connect with any concerns about the Bay, as required by our Waterkeeper Alliance license. This is a temporary appointment, just until we hire the new full-time Baykeeper.
Second, we recognize that Friends of Casco Bay now has the unique opportunity to take a moment to assess, take a breath and gain perspective, as we consider the best ways to take care of Casco Bay moving forward. We are engaged in a series of organization-wide conversations to define what the next iteration of Baykeeping in Casco Bay should look like. There will be no “replacing Joe” or “filling his shoes.” When Joe started working for Friends in 1991, he became the seventh Waterkeeper in the world (there are now more than 240, on six continents) and largely defined the job as he evolved it. Now Friends of Casco Bay is a stable organization with eight full-time staff members working with our community to take care of a Bay that belongs to all of us. We recognize both the value of having a Waterkeeper in our midst working as the eyes, ears, and voice of the Bay, as well as the importance of working together with our community. Our conversations are helping us define the tasks, responsibilities, attributes, and approaches that we believe will best serve the Bay and complement the Staff of the organization.
Third, I am assembling a search committee that will include some board members and senior staff. Once we have finished our “defining Baykeeping” conversations, we will develop the new Casco Baykeeper job description. This will likely be posted by late Spring on our website and various job posting services and emailed to our contacts.
Anyone who is interested in the position is encouraged to provide us with their email address so that when the search officially opens and the job description and application requirements are posted, you will be notified. You can sign up for our email list here: https://cascobay.org/email-sign-up/
We look forward to keeping you posted about our Baykeeper transition.
March 19, 2015