The Orange County Land Trust had selected as its new executive director a veteran of more than 20 years of experience in land conservation and an expertise in the management of nonprofits.
Jim Dehner started his career as a land stewardship intern while in college. Most recently, he was the executive director of the Indiana Land Protection Alliance, a collaboration of 24 land trusts throughout the state.
He has succeeded Jim Delaune, who oversaw the Orange County organization for 13 years. The Land Trust has permanently protected almost 6,500 acres since its establishment 28 years ago.
Dehner has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Unity College and a masters degree in that subject from Antioch University New England. In addition, he has a Master’s degree in nonprofit management with a concentration in leadership from Northeastern University.
He was the founding board president for the Ashburnham Conservation Trust in Massachusetts about 60 miles northwest of Boston. He currently serves on the board of the Northeast Wilderness Trust as treasurer. He also has worked as a senior college administrator and as a graduate level instructor in nonprofit management theory and practice and ethical leadership.
Dehner said in an interview that the Land Trust, under his leadership, would continue to cater to the desire of communities for adequate recreational opportunities and the preservation of scenic vistas. He said that he doesn’t anticipate drastic changes but would be guided by an existing strategic plan.
He added that the county’s residents clearly appreciated, “the great outdoors.” And he was impressed by the “passion” of the Land Trust.
But Dehner said in a statement that the county, as one of the fastest growing regions outside New York City, was at “at a bit of a crossroads here.”
“What ultimately drove me to this organization and Orange County were the opportunities to make a large- scale impact,” Dehner said. “In sitting down and examining the county, and its vast inventory of agricultural land and natural habitat, it was immediately apparent how important land conservation is for long-term viability and sustainability.”
Land Trust board president Arlene Nolan said in a statement that the organization was busier than it has ever been. With Delaune’s large shoes to fill, “It was critical that we find a candidate with a natural ability to quickly adapt and keep our operations running smoothly,: she said. “After a thorough search by our board of directors, we are ecstatic to have found the right person to assume this role.”