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Deschutes Land Trust announces new executive director

New Deschutes Land Trust Executive Director Rika Ayotte
Deschutes Land Trust
New Deschutes Land Trust Executive Director Rika Ayotte

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — The Deschutes Land Trust is pleased to announce that Rika Ayotte will become its next executive director on July 6. Rika brings demonstrated experience in leadership, collaboration, and nonprofit management to lead the Land Trust in conserving and caring for the lands and waters that sustain Central Oregon for generations to come.

Since 2015, Rika Ayotte has served as the executive director for Discover Your Forest, a Central Oregon non-profit partner to the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests. She holds an MBA in nonprofit management and is also the founder and CEO of Forest Path Consulting, a nonprofit organizational development firm.

Rika has more than 15 years of experience working in nonprofit organizations. She was a leader in the foundation of both the Deschutes Trails Coalition and Ochoco Trails Strategy groups helping to convene dozens of partners and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for sustainable trails in Central Oregon. She has led multiple strategic planning processes and organizational development efforts for public lands partners and conservation organizations across the western United States.

“The Land Trust is fortunate to have a talented leader like Rika join the organization. Rika’s thoughtful management approach, demonstrated financial leadership, experience building partnerships, and enthusiasm to foster engagement with diverse communities to support land conservation made her our top choice. Our entire Board felt inspired and confident that she was the person to lead the Land Trust in the future, and we know she’s prepared to hit the ground running to build relationships with our community of supporters. We are honored to welcome Rika to our team of talented staff,” said Glenn Willard board president for the Deschutes Land Trust.

Rika was born and raised in Southern Oregon and has been in Central Oregon for the past six years. She holds a BA in history from the University of Washington and a MA in museum management and an MBA in nonprofit management from John F. Kennedy University. She serves on the Boards of The Children’s Forest of Central Oregon, and the Global Leadership Adventures International Foundation, and sits on the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund Commission. When she's not working or volunteering, you will find her hiking and camping with her family and her dog and chasing after her energetic toddler.

Rika will succeed Brad Chalfant, the Land Trust’s executive director for 25 years. With Chalfant’s leadership, the Deschutes Land Trust has grown into a regional conservation leader protecting and caring for more than 17,500 acres throughout Central Oregon. Today, the Land Trust is building the future and preparing for the next 25 years of strategic conservation for Central Oregon.

The Land Trust’s newly updated vision maintains a focus on working to conserve and care for the lands and waters we all need to thrive. It also emphasizes working together to ensure healthy communities for people and nature, and elevates the importance of climate change and the cascading impacts it has on the natural world. Finally, the vision reflects the desire to equitably connect all people to the land so we can find shared values and work together to care for this place we call home.

“I’m very honored to join the Deschutes Land Trust and help them achieve this ambitious vision for the future,” said Ayotte. “I look forward to building on Brad Chalfant’s amazing legacy, and to working with the dedicated staff, Board, supporters, and community partners who are so committed to conserving and caring for the lands and waters of Central Oregon.”

The Deschutes Land Trust envisions a future of strong and healthy natural and human communities—where we work together to conserve and care for the lands that make Central Oregon an incredible place to live, work, and grow. As Central Oregon’s locally-based, nationally-accredited land trust, the Deschutes Land Trust has conserved and continues to care for more than 17,523 acres since 1995. For more information on the Deschutes Land Trust, contact us at (541) 330-0017 or visit www.deschuteslandtrust.org.

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