Franklin Land Trust Welcomes New Executive Director

As the Franklin Land Trust (FLT) celebrates its 35th anniversary, we are welcoming a new Executive Director.

On November 15th, the Franklin Land Trust’s Board of Directors unanimously voted in favor of appointing Mary Lynn Sabourin to the role of Executive Director. Sabourin had occupied the position of Interim Executive Director for six months, after having worked at the Franklin Land Trust for 20 years in a wide variety of roles over that time, from Office Manager, Web Designer, and Bookkeeper to Director of Philanthropy and Deputy Director.

Mary’s tenure at FLT has offered her the opportunity to connect with many incredible mentors from the land trust community as well as donors, board members, and landowners.

Barbara Miller, Board President, says of Sabourin’s appointment to the role of Executive Director that “Mary is uniquely qualified to lead the Franklin Land Trust into its next chapter.  Her knowledge of the area and many contributions to the trust will ensure that Franklin Land Trust remains a true pillar of the community.”

Sabourin has worked closely with all of FLT’s previous Executive Directors to help build the organization into what it is today. She credits their deep commitment and dedication to these hills and valleys as the reason that we are all fortunate enough to enjoy the rural landscapes and open spaces that we do currently.

Sabourin was instrumental in building the Deerfield Dirt-Road Randonnée (D2R2), Franklin Land Trust’s most significant fundraising event and one of the most famous bike rides in the country.

Sabourin has taken a relationships-first approach to building the Land Trust, rooting it in the social network of its environs and establishing trust and open communication between the Land Trust, its donors, the landowners, and the communities it serves.

As Mary steps into her new role, the Franklin Land Trust as a whole is looking ahead and planning how best to situate itself for the future, while also looking back and remembering lessons learned.

Our organization was started in 1987 with the modest goal of saving just one farm in Ashfield, but over the past 35 years we have grown to conserve nearly 35,000 acres.

In 2008 we merged with the all-volunteer Deerfield Land Trust for which we had been administering. In 2012 we purchased our permanent home on Mechanic Street in Shelburne Falls. And in 2014 we expanded our capabilities even further when the Massachusetts Woodlands Institute (MWI) became a subsidiary of the Franklin Land Trust. MWI is a nonprofit that connects with people in the community who are responsible for the long-term management of the landscape: families, farms, rural businesses and recreational or other interest groups.

Over the years our guiding conservation priorities have focused on working farmlands & woodlands, water resources, landscape scale wildlife corridors, and the historic rural character of the region.

These priorities are not only based on the particular needs of our community, but also on the urgent action they require. They represent facets of our region that are under significant threat from development, climate change, and invasive species. We are engaged in a race against time to preserve the delicate economic and ecological balance of forest, farm and village that has shaped the lives of many generations of western Massachusetts residents.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this organization as it heads into its next thirty-five years,” Sabourin said. “I feel incredibly lucky to begin this role with such an incredible staff and board, who are truly dedicated to this work and the mission of the land trust.”

Mary’s deep investment in building and preserving community ties, her years of experience, and her creative thinking are exactly the qualities FLT needs in an Executive Director as we plan for our next 35 years!