MALT Announces Selection of New Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2012
Point Reyes Station, Calif.: Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) announces today that its Board of Directors has selected Jamison Watts as MALT’s new Executive Director effective January 14, 2013. Mr. Watts is currently Executive Director of the Northern California Regional Land Trust (NCRLT).
“MALT’s Board conducted a nationwide search and extensive interview process that began a year ago after long-time Executive Director Bob Berner announced his intent to retire at the end of this year,” said MALT Board Chairman Rick Lafranchi. “The Board unanimously selected Mr. Watts for his energy, leadership skills, passion for farmland conservation and entrepreneurial spirit that will continue to advance MALT’s mission.”
As a great, great grandson of John Muir’s sister, Margaret Muir Reid, conservation runs in Watts' blood. He grew up reading John Muir’s writings that were proudly displayed in his childhood home in Contra Costa County. His interest in conservation led him to earn a degree from U.C. Davis in Environmental Biology with an emphasis in Conservation Biology. He spent the next 12 years as a field and wildlife biologist, while simultaneously earning a master’s degree in Biological Sciences, before joining NCRLT as its Executive Director in 2006.
During his years at NCRLT’s helm, Watts increased its budget by nearly 600 percent and tripled the acreage protected from 4,800 to 15,100. The majority of his work focused on protecting farm and ranch land, as well as raising public awareness of the importance of watershed protection and land stewardship. In addition, he successfully led the creation of a thriving local food system program for Butte, Tehama and Glenn counties.
“I grew up in Walnut Creek, which was a small town then with a strong agricultural heritage,” says Watts. “My grammar school was located next door to Shell Ridge, which is protected rangeland. I think that upbringing was the genesis of my land ethic and why protecting agriculture is so important to me personally and professionally.”
“Protecting farmland is more than just protecting food production and the rural landscape. There are many less tangible cultural and social benefits that aren’t always taken into the equation, such as the quality of life, rural economy and local heritage,” continues Watts. “Marin County has taken those land values seriously and to heart. Through my new position at MALT, I’m looking forward to joining that conservation effort.”
Mr. Watts will serve as Executive Director beginning on January 14, 2013.
Deirdre Holbrook, Director of Outreach and Communications
Phone: 415.6631158, ext. 315