Cook Inletkeeper officials have hired a new executive director to help lead the organization through a “restructuring effort,” according to a news release issued Wednesday.
The organization’s board of directors selected Wayne Jenkins, formerly the executive director at Georgia ForestWatch, to lead the organization after a nationwide search.
Jenkins will help usher the Homer-based Cook Inletkeeper through a restructuring effort that will “make it more effective and efficient at protecting water quality and wild salmon throughout the Cook Inlet watershed,” according to the release.
Former Inletkeeper Executive Director Bob Shavelson will “take a lateral step,” taking the title of “Inletkeeper” and lead the organization’s advocacy efforts while sharing in management with Jenkins.
Jenkins will oversee and manage staff on the non-advocacy side of the organization, and help with salmon stream oversight, climate work, clean boating and harbors, safe drinking water and electronics recycling, among others. He will “grow into a central role helping the organization cultivate its relationships with members, donors and supporters,” according to the organization’s website.
“This re-organization will provide us with new, experienced leadership in Wayne and allow Bob to focus on the growing advocacy issues in Cook Inlet that threaten water quality and salmon habitat,” Inletkeeper board president Benjamin Jackinsky said in the release. “We have a great team in place and this restructuring will put us on stronger footing moving forward.”
Jenkins draws experience from leading ForestWatch from 2004 to 2011, being an organic farmer and consultant, landscape designer and native plant nurseryman.
“This organization has a great history and an exciting future,” Jenkins said in the release. “I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet, and helping take the organization to the next level.”
Shavelson had been the organization’s executive director and its lead advocate for more than 16 years, however, the number of “pollution and policy issues” facing Cook Inlet have grown in size and complexity, the organization contends.
“We are for the protection of salmon habitat and water quality, so that is going to be increasingly what my focus is going to be,” Shavelson said. “I’ve been doing that for the past 16 years, but our organization has grown and so has the complexity of the issues facing Cook Inlet.”
Simply put, there are more projects on the organization’s radar — dock systems, bridge proposals, coal mine proposals, a resurgence of oil and gas exploration in Cook Inlet and issues with beluga whales.
Although Inletkeeper doesn’t have a large state lobbying presence, that doesn’t mean Shavelson will be spending more time in Juneau. He said lobbying would remain on an issue-specific basis, while much of the organization’s efforts would remain focused on reaching out to agency decision makers and also organizing citizens to speak out on issues that concern them.
“I’ve essentially been wearing three hats for 16 years — fundraising, management and advocacy — and I am going to be able to split those duties off and focus on what I feel are my strengths,” he said. “... I think it is going to be good for the organization in the long term that we have that new organizational structure.”