Will Wiquist, who has served as executive director of the Green Mountain Club since April 2011, has left the organization.
He announced his departure in a Facebook post Friday morning.
The 10,000-member Green Mountain Club founded and maintains the 272-mile Long Trail. It also maintains the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and many miles of other trails.
Wiquist said Friday he is keeping all doors open.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s next,” Wiquist said. “I’m looking around, going to take some time for myself and have some conversations with some folks. I have a lot of friends in the state, and I’m open to ideas.”
He said the Green Mountain Club is “a great organization.”
“We’ve done a lot of great things with the club, and I’m looking forward to working hard at the next thing, whatever it might be,” he said.
Maisie Howard, development director at the Green Mountain Club, is now also the interim executive director.
“Will decided to leave the GMC to pursue other opportunities,” Howard said Friday. “He’s spent a great 2½ years here. We’re very grateful to him for all the accomplishments he was able to set in place while he was here. We wish him well in the future, and we’re sorry to see him go.”
Howard said the club, founded in 1910, took some major strides under Wiquist’s leadership.
One of those achievements is starting construction on the long-awaited bridge that is expected to cross the Winooski River in Bolton by next fall.
And while there were no major issues with the GMC’s finances before his arrival, Wiquist is credited with helping the club shore up that part of its operation.
“He did some great work in putting new financial controls in place for the organization and moving into a new phase for the organization,” Howard said.
Wiquist said he is also happy to have been part of establishing the Energy Siting Commission under Gov. Peter Shumlin. He said he came up with the idea of a commission that chooses where energy projects will be installed.
He helped form a coalition of nonprofit groups that went to the governor with the recommendation.
“Energy policies were very outdated,” Wiquist said. “It resulted in some policy proposals that, I understand, the Legislature will be looking at.”
Howard said that effort should not be overlooked.
“He’s played a very positive role in the public policy debate,” she said.
The challenge for the Green Mountain Club now is how to find its next leader.
“We’re still getting our heads around how we want to move forward,” Howard said.
The next executive director will not only see the Winooski Bridge project through to completion but take on other trail projects in the works and continue to expand membership and fundraising.
“We’ll be looking for someone who can really lead the charge,” Howard said.
Wiquist spent 3½ years as Sen. Bernard Sanders’ press secretary. He also worked on Rep. Peter Welch’s 2006 congressional campaign and worked for the Federal Election Commission.
“I’m hoping to stay in Vermont,” Wiquist said. “I have a deep love of the state of Vermont. I have a lot of deep connections to the state. But I’ve been pulled away before, so I’m not even closing that door.”
Wiquist followed Ben Rose, who served as the GMC’s executive director from 1998 to 2011.
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