After 8 years, Paul Danicic moves on from Friends’ Director post

Dear Friends’ Supporter:

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I’d like to take this opportunity to inform you of a leadership change for the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness:  After eight years in the role of Executive Director, Paul Danicic has decided to move on to pursue other initiatives and adventures. Paul’s last day as Executive Director will be April 30; he will continue in an advisory role until September 1, 2017, to ensure a smooth transition for the next Executive Director.

Commitment to the wilderness coupled with advocacy and fundraising acumen have positioned our organization as a critical, leading voice in preserving the most-visited Wilderness Area in the country: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Because we are a membership organization, individuals like you elevate and sustain this work. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Paul and the staff who advance the Friends’ mission each day – at the Capitol, in the media and in the community.

Under Paul’s leadership, the Friends has had great success in protecting the wilderness. This includes establishing the Friends as an early, active, and successful trailblazer in the fight to stop sulfide mining in northeast Minnesota. Our outreach generated tens of thousands of public comments against sulfide mining, brought record numbers of supporters out to public hearings, and helped convince government officials at the local, state and federal level to oppose these mining operations.

In addition to countering the existential threat that mining poses to the wilderness, we have brought attention to the threat of climate change to the Boundary Waters Wilderness, advocated for long-term protection of adjacent public lands, and begun training a new generation of advocates. All of which has been made possible by a membership base and annual giving that has more than doubled under Paul’s leadership.

On behalf of the board and staff, we are resolute in continuing this trajectory. Specifically, the board has formed a search committee to hire a new Executive Director, and is implementing a transition and interim leadership plan. We are confident our work can continue without interruption, including our extensive outreach to supporters during the comment period about the two-year moratorium on new mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness.

Since our founding in 1976, the Friends has earned hard-fought victories that made possible this wild land of protected lakes and rivers that so many people seek for adventure, rejuvenation, and solitude. Paul has strengthened the Friends – and put us on a footing to earn more victories in the years ahead.

Paul wanted to share the following message with you:

The Boundary Waters as a protected place is profound and necessary. I’ve seen my own life –  and those of many, many young people, positively changed from time spent exploring it. Working with the Friends for its long-term protection has enriched me accordingly; I will never take wilderness for granted. Addressing the challenging issues that face the wilderness with the support of incredibly smart staff, board members, and the thousands of members who love and cherish it so has been a privilege for me. The commitment that you bring to protecting our border lakes region inspired me daily. What’s more, I felt particularly fortunate to lead efforts to preserve the iconic canoe country from extremely risky sulfide mining proposals. These included respectfully engaging new audiences, from future BWCA adventurers and experienced ones who were completely unaware of its fragile state, to local residents and political officials.

I lament that the work is indeed not finished. Industry continues attempts to work its way up to the very trailheads with potentially devastating results. USFS staff, the official stewards of the landscape, face increasingly lean budgets and staffing levels. Political leaders will always be tempted to make short term decisions. In the years ahead, we must be forming new, diverse partnerships with people who don’t look like the regulars who experience the BWCA. I look forward to continuing these efforts with you as a Friends member.

I look forward to sharing further updates with you, including when we identify our next Executive Director (if you have any questions, please direct them to Cori Mattke, membership and operations director: Until then, help me thank and congratulate Paul on his service.


Daniel Pauly
Chairman of the Board
Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness

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