New ED for NFCT


Warren Cook, president of the board of directors of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, has announced that Karrie Thomas is its new executive director. Thomas takes over from outgoing director Kate Williams who has joined Waitsfield, Vt.-based 1% for the Planet.

The position marks a returning to her roots for Thomas, a native of New Hampshire who graduated from Colorado College and spent the last 15 years living in California and Washington states. Most recently, Thomas managed fundraising and community relations for the Placer Land Trust in Placer County, Calif., and before that, daily operations for an alliance focused on sustainable agriculture. She has also done independent development consulting for farm-to-school projects, and hands-on coordination for community-supported agriculture.

Thomas is a whitewater kayaker who, before managing teams in the nonprofit sector, co-led private expeditions to Chile, India, Mexico, Nepal, and Peru, as well as throughout North America.

“The Northern Forest Canoe Trail’s vision of strengthening communities – both of paddlers and of place – through 740 miles of the Northern Forest aligns with both my life and career goals,” says Thomas. “I look forward to working with paddlers, volunteers, community members, land owners and policy makers to ensure that the trail enhances the vitality of the region for generations to come.”

The nonprofit’s board of directors conducted a national search to fill the executive director position seeking an individual to lead implementation of the organization’s 2020 Strategic Plan. Thomas’s background in development, program administration, and staff management fit the nonprofit’s expectations and vision.

“The Northern Forest Canoe Trail has developed into a strong, internationally-recognized water trail,” says Cook. “We are proud of what we have built and look forward to expanding our impact under Karrie’s leadership. We will be forever grateful for the leadership and hard work that Kate Williams provided during her tenure, and we wish her all the best in her new pursuits.”

The organization remains devoted to maintaining and improving access to the 740-mile water trail, inspiring paddlers to recreate in the Northern Forest region, and contributing to the resilience of the communities along its corridor in the Adirondacks and the northern waterways of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

“I’m thrilled that Karrie will be joining the Northern Forest Canoe Trail,” says ex-ED Williams. “It’s an exciting time of growth for the organization, and she brings terrific energy, experience, and smarts to lead the charge. I will be cheering for her and the whole NFCT team!”

Plans for the coming years include improved access and paddler infrastructure as well as increased opportunities for paddlers of all ages and skill levels to experience the water trail, which traces Native American and early European settler canoe routes.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is the longest paddling trail in the nation and runs from Old Forge, New York through Vermont, Québec, and New Hampshire to Fort Kent, Maine. The nonprofit was established in 2000 to connect people to the Trail’s natural environment, human heritage, and contemporary communities. In 2011 the Trail was named “Best Canoe Trail” by Outside Magazine, and in 2012 the magazine named the Trail a “Best East Coast Adventure.”

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