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Photo by Patrick Colleran
Nov 01 2017

Introducing Our New Executive Director

A rising star in the conservation movement, Ben Gabriel comes to MWA from Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks

Announcements, Featured

Montana Wilderness Association's State Council is pleased to announce the selection of Ben Gabriel as our next executive director. Ben comes to MWA from his position as executive director of Friends of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (FOMDP) in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

What excited our search committee the most about Ben were the leadership skills he demonstrated in his three-year tenure at FOMDP and the inspiring vision he articulated for MWA, which entails building on the tremendous success we’ve had over recent years.

Ben has shown he has the ability to positively shape an organization in almost all aspects – in building staff, seizing funding opportunities, crafting smart policies, and, most importantly, running programs that achieve success through partnership and collaboration. FOMDP has several programs designed to build a broad based of support for the protection and restoration of the ecological, natural, cultural, and historic treasures of southern New Mexico. He has worked extensively with a variety of stakeholders, building diversity into his organization and its programs. Ben’s impressive tenure at FOMDP already gives him the diversity of skills needed to lead MWA’s broad swath of programs. 

In a relatively short tenure leading a conservation organization, Ben has quickly made a mark for himself in the national conservation movement. He came recommended by a number of trusted partners across the country for, among other things, leading the defense of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in the face of Secretary Ryan Zinke’s national monument review this summer. That experience will well serve our campaign defending national monuments and other public lands in Montana. 

Ben also sees that, despite tough political times, there are opportunities to advance our mission and objectives. Before he became the executive director of FOMDP, Ben managed several outdoor recreation programs at New Mexico State University, where he oversaw a large staff. Having had that experience, Ben comes to MWA with a deep understanding of the importance of championing the connection between public lands and outdoor recreation. He also comes well prepared to partner with the director of Montana’s new Office of Outdoor Recreation, the creation of which MWA has advocated for in recent years.
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What excited our search committee the most about Ben were the leadership skills he demonstrated in his three-year tenure at FOMDP and the inspiring vision he articulated for MWA, which entails building on the tremendous success we’ve had over recent years.

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In addition to his skill and vision, we were impressed by his humility and his excitement to work with the great staff we already have in place. He is truly passionate about defending wild places, and it shows in his hard work and in the inspiring impression he has made on our conservation partners.

Ben's first day on the job will be December 1, 2017. MWA’s state council looks forward to working with Ben and his staff to expand our movement to protect wild places and enhance public lands in Montana. Join us in welcoming Ben to MWA.

- Mark Hanson, MWA council president