From the Executive Director – A New Strategy

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2019.

In June of last year, I became the Fund’s fourth Executive Director. It is my privilege to lead our incredible team and to work with all of you in a new role. I told myself that I needed to get a letter to our project teams, advisors, and volunteer expert reviewers as soon as I could. Well, that is now!

I am writing to thank you.

Belatedly, I admit, but most sincerely. Your efforts have made a difference in the health of the Lakes.

And, as this is later than I had hoped, let me share a bit of news as well.

In the last seven months, we’ve provided over three million dollars in financial support to five new teams. They are the latest additions to our twenty team project portfolio that includes some 420 individuals representing 170 different organizations. Altogether, we are providing $16 million to launch new solutions to the challenges facing our Lakes.

Our staff and board have also spent the last six months reflecting on our purpose, the shared priorities of our member governors, where we really add value, what we can do differently (and/or better) and how we might focus our energy for the next few years. We have poured over our internal and external evaluations, reviewed workshop proceedings, and talked with many of you. We discussed, debated, and shaped a new path forward.

A few weeks ago, the Board approved a new strategic plan based on that process. A copy of that plan is available here.

A few things will remain constant. We will stay focused on our mission to identify, demonstrate and promote regional action to enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem. We will continue to seek positive, transformational impact in our work. And, we will continue to hold ourselves to a standard of excellence in our operational and fiduciary responsibilities.

Other things will be different. We will be a more extroverted and engaged organization. We will celebrate what our supported teams have created, be more transparent in our processes, and share what we learn when projects unfold differently than expected. You will hear more from us, hear from us more often, and see us more regularly.

We will also more clearly articulate our funding priorities. We will focus our support where experts have identified an overlap of ecosystem need and transformational opportunity. For the near term, those priorities include:

  • the expanded use of technology and finance tools to drive sustainable use of water resources,
  • the expanded role of third parties and non-traditional partners in reducing nutrient pollution, and
  • the use of new approaches to limit the introduction and spread of invasive species.

We will be more nimble in our funding, increasingly use smaller investments to test opportunities and take successes to scale, and explore how debt or equity can be used.

We will be more engaged with our expert advisors. In fact, we are looking for advice on the highest impact projects in our priority areas. If you want to actively participate, please let us know by signing up for our talent bank.

There’s more, but that’s enough for now. As I said above, you’ll be hearing from us. Keep updated with our emails, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and watch our blog for updates.

Have a Great New Year!

Dave

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