John Rosenow announced to the Arbor Day Foundation board of trustees that he will retire as chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation effective July 1, 2014 and begin a role as an advisor.
Mr. Rosenow started the Arbor Day Foundation 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.
Over the past 42 years, the Arbor Day Foundation has launched large-scale, sustained programs to further its mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. In announcing his transition, Mr. Rosenow stated, "It's through the loyalty and support of Foundation members and partners we will continue making a positive impact on so many people's lives and the environment for decades to come."
Arbor Day Foundation members and supporters have helped the Foundation plant some 250 million trees on five continents, including 95 United States national and state forests that have been damaged by disease and fire.
The Tree City USA community improvement program, launched in 1976, is the platform for enhanced community forestry programs in towns and cities across America. There are currently 3,434 communities that meet the Tree City USA standards.
The Arbor Day Foundation also works to improve tree planting and care by utility companies, and its Rain Forest Rescue program helps save threatened tropical rain forests through support of local communities. Mr. Rosenow also led the preservation of Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, a National Historic Landmark, and the development of Lied Lodge & Conference Center which serves business, conservation, and education groups from around the world.
The Nature Explore program, a collaborative project of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, provides resources to create nature-rich outdoor classrooms at elementary schools, childcare centers, domestic violence shelters, arboretums, and public spaces to make enriching nature connections part of the daily lives of children.
Under Mr. Rosenow's leadership over the past 42 years, the loyalty of members, supporters, and partners has built programs that have a positive impact on the environment today, but especially on the future. The values and strengths of the organization position the Foundation for continued positive impact and sustained growth.
"The Arbor Day Foundation's members, partners, and staff are having a remarkable impact on the environment," Mr. Rosenow said. "By building greener communities, replanting our forests, and connecting children with nature, the work is leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come."
Mr. Rosenow's announcement to retire as chief executive was accepted by the Foundation's board of trustees.
Doug Bereuter, chair of the board of trustees, said the board, in announcing its acceptance of John Rosenow's decision to step down in six months from leading the organization he founded, lauded him for "his tremendous legacy of so many remarkable achievements and inspirational leadership." He continued by noting, "The board is confident the Foundation's growth and service to its loyal members will continue unabated under its strong and experienced executive management team, its devoted staff, and John's continued advisory role."