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New Arbor Day Foundation Leadership Effective Today as Matt Harris Becomes Chief Executive

date 07/01/14

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

NEBRASKA CITY, NEB. (July 1, 2014) – Today Matt Harris becomes the Arbor Day Foundation's new chief executive, only the second in the organization's 42 year history. Harris has been with the Foundation for 11 years, having most recently served as president since 2008. Harris succeeds founder John Rosenow who retired on June 30th and now serves in an advisory role.

Ray Empson, chair of the Arbor Day Foundation's board of trustees, remarked, "We're delighted to announce Matt's promotion to CEO and excited for the future of the organization. Matt's vision, experience, and years of leadership in all aspects of the Foundation's work make him the ideal person to lead the organization into the future." Empson continued, "The board is confident the Foundation's positive impact and service to its members and many partners will grow under Matt and his strong and experienced executive management team and staff."

"The work of the Arbor Day Foundation is as important as ever," stated Harris. "We stand poised to expand our leadership role in ensuring that trees are recognized as a vital part of solving challenging global issues. People's lives are positively affected every day by trees. Planting trees helps to address pollution, water quality, climate change, hunger and poverty around the world," Harris continued.

"I have great confidence in the talent throughout our organization including an executive management team with 55 years of collective experience with the Foundation. The entire team, along with our loyal members and committed partners, make me genuinely enthusiastic about the future growth of our programs and impact," remarked Harris.

The Arbor Day Foundation is the nation's largest membership-based environmental nonprofit organization. It creates and builds innovative, large-scale, sustained programs to further its mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

Today marks several milestones in the reach and impact of Arbor Day Foundation programs. For example:

Arbor Day Foundation members and supporters have helped the Foundation plant some 250 million trees on five continents, including on 95 United States national and state forests that have been damaged by disease and fire. More than 180 million Americans depend on healthy forests for their drinking water.

The Tree City USA community improvement program is the platform for enhanced urban and community forestry programs in towns and cities across America. More than 138 million people benefit from local city forestry in more than 3,400 Tree City USA communities across the nation.

The Arbor Day Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue program helps save threatened tropical rain forests through support of local communities. The Foundation also owns and operates Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, a National Historic Landmark, and Lied Lodge & Conference Center which serves business, conservation, and education groups from around the world.

The Nature Explore program, a collaborative program of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, provides resources to create nature-rich outdoor classrooms at elementary schools, childcare centers, and domestic violence shelters to make enriching nature connections part of the daily lives of children.

About the Arbor Day Foundation:

The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance. Celebrated in all 50 states and many countries around the world, Arbor Day is the oldest environmental holiday. With nearly a million members, the Foundation is the largest environmental nonprofit dedicated to planting trees.


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