Dan Flanagan, executive director of Friends of the Urban Forest since 2008, has announced plans to retire this spring. FUF’s board of directors has engaged an executive search firm to find the next successful executive director for the organization. Below, Dan shares thoughts about his decision to step down, and board chair Dawn Kamalanathan provides information about the search.
Time to leave an organization I love
This is a bittersweet time for me.
After 12 amazing years at Friends of the Urban Forest, I’m making plans for the next chapter of my life. The Board supports my decision to move on, and has launched a search for a new executive director.
It’s hard to know when to step away from work you love, but now is the right time. I just turned 68, and having experienced some health issues over the past several years, I believe that FUF deserves an energetic new leader.
Fortunately, FUF is stronger today than when I joined. We have an extraordinarily talented staff who are deeply committed to greening this amazing city. We have scores of dedicated volunteers who are “chomping at the bit” to get back to planting with us as soon as it’s safe to do so, come rain or shine (and with winter here, let’s pray for RAIN).
FUF is equally blessed by a generous group of supporters who have made it possible for us to plant almost 50% of all the street trees in San Francisco in the 40 years since FUF was founded.
The unique challenges of the past 10 months have proved how resilient and creative our team is. We have had to adapt at every turn, from altering our working methods due to Covid-19 to suspending field work when our air quality has become dangerous. At all times we have prioritized the safety and health of our team and our community.
At times like these, an organization’s hidden strengths are revealed. And I could not be more proud, or more reassured. Which is why I can confidently contemplate leaving FUF and its legacy, created over decades, in the capable hands of our staff and the successor our board will select.
During the next few months I’ll work hard to keep advancing FUF’s mission while the executive search process plays out; my goal is to step down this spring. Until then my door is (virtually) open and I’ll be glad to hear from you, as always, with any urban forestry ideas or concerns.
“The future is not a gift. It is an achievement.”
–Robert F. Kennedy
The search for a new executive director
The Board of Directors of Friends of the Urban Forest is grateful to Dan Flanagan for his 12 years of dedicated and excellent service to the organization and to the people of San Francisco.
Under Dan’s leadership, FUF has planted 13,963 street trees and 1,100 sidewalk gardens, for a total of 216,480 square feet of concrete converted to urban forest; was a key driver of the creation and passage of the Healthy Trees and Safe Sidewalks ballot measure (Proposition E) in 2016, which provided a dedicated funding source for the City to maintain all street trees and repair all tree-related sidewalk damage; launched the Green Crew, a workforce development program that provides permanent, part-time employment and training in urban forestry for young adults with minimal work history; has increased its commitment to environmental justice by focusing its planting efforts in neighborhoods with the least tree canopy coverage; and has been recognized as a national leader in urban forestry.
The FUF Board has retained the executive search firm Carlson Beck to seek a new executive director who is a proven executive leader with a passion for FUF’s vision and mission and who can leverage the organization’s history, strengths, reputation, and standing in San Francisco as grassroots organizers committed to encouraging neighborhood stewardship and mitigating climate change.
The new Executive Director will start at an exciting time in FUF’s trajectory as the organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2021. The organization just released an ambitious and timely strategic plan that is supported by its staff, the Board of Directors, and other stakeholders. This is an opportunity to head a well-established and respected organization that continues to lead in expanding San Francisco’s green infrastructure while increasing focus on the relevance of its vision in a period of increased necessity and the imperative of climate improvement.
Interested parties can find the position specification here.
Chair, Board of Directors