Maine Coast Heritage Trust Hires Angela Twitchell to Lead Statewide Land Trust Program
Release date: May 5, 2023
A resident of Topsham, Twitchell will leave her leadership post at Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and assume responsibility for overseeing Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s Land Trust Program
(May 4, 2023 – Topsham, Maine) – Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), a statewide land conservation organization, announced today that it has appointed Angela Twitchell of Topsham, Maine, to be its Land Trust Program Director. The announcement was made at the annual Maine Land Conservation Conference, held May 3 at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. Twitchell will assume the leadership position held for 13 years by Warren Whitney, who announced his retirement on January 4.
As MCHT’s new Land Trust Program Director, Twitchell will be responsible for consulting with and advising local land trusts and building a strong and responsive land trust network across Maine. The Maine Land Trust Network, established in 1995 as a program of MCHT, represents 84 land trusts that manage 340 water access points, 2.6 million conserved acres, and over 2,500 miles of trails (about the width of the United States).
Twitchell, who is from Turner, Maine, has a deep knowledge of and proficiency in land conservation. For the last 15 years, she has served as executive director of Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT), one of the state’s largest land trusts. Previously, she served as a land conservation consultant and a government and community relations coordinator for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Her first job in conservation was serving as a joint employee of MCHT and TNC as a campaign manager for a $50 million Land for Maine’s Future Bond, which MCHT has helped sustain for two and half decades.
Twitchell, who says she “grew up in a family full of farmers, small businesspeople, and outdoor enthusiasts,” has a deep love of the natural world and was drawn from a young age to the cause of environmental protection. Her father’s family business – Twitchell’s Airport in Turner – provided her with the rare opportunity to visit largely inaccessible wilderness lakes and ponds. “As a child I was so lucky to be able to fly into remote places in Maine that few people get to see, but I also experienced firsthand the effects of pollution on the Androscoggin River and the result of humans not being good stewards of the land. I knew from a young age that I wanted to go into an environmental field,” she said.
As executive director of BTLT, Twitchell has had the opportunity to make a significant impact on land conservation in Brunswick, Topsham, and many neighboring towns. She helped establish BTLT’s accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and forged unique partnerships with businesses and nonprofits to broaden the organization’s impact and relevance. More recently, she initiated the formation of a diversity, equity and inclusion committee and action plan; worked in partnership with MCHT to protect 87-acre Woodward Point Preserve, one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land in northern Casco Bay; and initiated a merger with the Cathance River Education Alliance. She has raised more than $14 million for BTLT conservation efforts; increased the organization’s annual income from $100,000 to $875,000 per year; augmented its stewardship endowment from $18,000 to $1.7 million; and shepherded its growth from one to nine employees.
Twitchell says she will transition gradually into her new position, serving part-time throughout the summer and assuming a full-time role on September 5.
“All of us are delighted to welcome Angela Twitchell to MCHT and into this important statewide leadership role,” said MCHT President and CEO Kate Stookey. “Angela has demonstrated an extraordinary gift for inspiring people and movements; she will play a key role in increasing momentum for the important work of Maine’s land trust community.”
Twitchell earned a BA in political science from Bates College in 1990 with an emphasis on environmental studies and spent her junior year abroad studying in the Brazilian Rainforest. She was a New England representative for Terrafirma Risk Retention Group, which works to ensure that land trusts can properly defend their conservation interests. She also served as chair of the Maine Land Trust Network from 2018-2021. She has been actively engaged for two decades in supporting local farmers and food systems and was part of an early band of land trust leaders pioneering new ways to connect people to nature. She helped establish the farmers’ market and community gardens at Crystal Spring Farm and helped to form the Merrymeeting Food Council, a network of farms, fisheries, businesses, nonprofits, and government to advance a dynamic food system in 14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay. She has volunteered locally on numerous town, school, and sporting committees.
“I am honored to have been selected to join MCHT as the new Land Trust Program Director,” said Twitchell. “I’m particularly excited to be working on a statewide level to explore ways for the land trust network to collaborate and plan for intentional impacts, especially as it relates to climate change.”
Twitchell noted that Maine’s land trusts are already addressing a range of goals within the Maine Climate Action Plan, “but if we collectively and intentionally pull together, I think that we can have a more significant impact on the state of Maine,” she said.
Statements of Support
BTLT Board President Emily Swan noted Twitchell’s transition in a statement. “Angela has led the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust through a period of extraordinary growth, both in the amount of conserved land we steward and in our community impact,” said Swan. “We will miss her terribly, but our loss will be the gain of the larger conservation community. We are glad Angela is not going far and we look forward to continuing to benefit from her leadership and enthusiasm in her new role.”
Bradley Babson, past president of BTLT and a longtime colleague of Twitchell’s, stated: “I have worked closely with Angela for the past 15 years. She is passionate about conservation and community building. She is strategic and has wonderful relations with key stakeholders, board members and staff. She listens and gives thoughtful reactions and advice. And she’s a joy to work with.”
A Time of Great Momentum for Land Conservation
Twitchell joins MCHT at a time of great momentum and opportunity for land conservation. Over the past several years, MCHT has launched a variety of initiatives and partnerships to maximize coastal resilience in the face of climate change. MCHT has also worked to address issues related to food insecurity and degraded habitats and has been part of a statewide effort to build bridges between Maine’s land trusts and Wabanaki communities. MCHT pioneered the use of conservation easements in the 1970s, co-founded the national Land Trust Alliance, launched and sustained the Land for Maine’s Future program, and helped found many land trusts throughout the state.
Twitchell noted that she looks forward to becoming a staff member at MCHT at an exciting moment in the organization’s history. “MCHT is under new leadership, and they are working on a new strategic plan, so joining now as part of the leadership team is really exciting for me,” she said.
About Maine Coast Heritage Trust
MCHT is a dynamic, multifaceted organization with initiatives ranging from preserving coastal access for communities to high impact ecological work focused on reconnecting waterways and improving coastal resiliency to climate change. MCHT began on Mount Desert Island in 1970 and continues to serve as the local land trust for the MDI community with over two dozen preserves in the area. Since it began, MCHT has become a leader in Maine’s nationally renowned land conservation efforts and maintains a growing network of almost 150 coastal and island preserves coastwide—free and open to everyone. MCHT also leads the 84-member Maine Land Trust Network to ensure that land conservation provides benefits to all Maine communities. Get involved at www.mcht.org.
About the Land Trust Program
The Trust Program is part of MCHT’s work to serve and strengthen Maine’s entire community of land trusts. One way this is accomplished is though the Maine Land Trust Network (MLTN), which builds and sustains the quality and effectiveness of land trusts and other organizations engaged in land conservation throughout the state, drawing upon our collective expertise and resources to ensure responsible and successful conservation.
Established in 1995, MLTN strengthens the conservation community by serving as a central hub of information, facilitating information exchange and collaboration, providing technical assistance and expertise, and administering grants to increase the impact of the land trust community. MLTN offers a broad array of programs, services, and resources designed to build the capacity and sustainability of land conservation organizations throughout the state. A program of Maine Coast Heritage Trust, MLTN is led by a Steering Committee representing up to 25 member land trusts.