By Jajean Rose-Burney, Deputy Executive Director
I want to share some exciting news with you. I recently accepted a new job with the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation, a conservation organization that works primarily in Ecuador, and I will be starting that new job on December 1st. My role will be to help raise money for their work from the U.S. – but yes, I will get to travel to Ecuador!
This will be a big change for me. The Western New York Land Conservancy has been my home for more than a decade, and I truly love working at the Land Conservancy. On my last visit with my wife’s family in Puerto Rico, my mother-in-law asked me what I had been working on at the Land Conservancy all these years. Instead of trying to figure out how to explain everything, I decided to use my phone and show her some photos and videos from our website.
I scrolled through pages on the places we protected. Old-growth forests, turquoise rivers, and deep gorges. Vast wetlands, rolling hills, and fertile farmland. The images were beautiful, full of colorful birds, beautiful flowers, and smiling faces.
I remembered the people who loved these places, many of whom have passed away. I thought of all of the times I walked along new trails with my wife Ana, and my mom and dad. I thought of you and all of the Land Conservancy members, the hard work, the long hours, and the sacrifices you made to save these places. My eyes teared up. That moment in Puerto Rico with my mother-in-law may have been the first time I really had a chance to reflect on the amazing work we have accomplished together.
I will be forever grateful to so many people, but I am especially grateful to Nancy Smith, our former Executive Director, for hiring me all those years ago and for guiding me through the last decade. While I am sad to be leaving the Western New York Land Conservancy, the truth is, I have always wanted to work in international conservation. With Marisa Riggi settled in as the Land Conservancy’s new Executive Director, I decided it was time to look for my dream job. I think I found it.
Thank you all so much.