WAITSFIELD, Vt.- The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) has announced that Kate Williams will step down as executive director, effective Feb. 17.
Williams will remain active in the outdoor and recreation arenas, joining 1 Percent for the Planet as Director of Partnerships and New England Network.
"During Kate's 10 years as executive director, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail has grown from an intriguing idea to an internationally recognized recreational resource," said Board President Warren Cook. "She is one of the outstanding nonprofit leaders in the country and we wish her well in her exciting new assignment. On behalf of the board of directors, I applaud Kate for her success in positioning the Northern Forest Canoe Trail as a leader in the Northern Forest Region and beyond."
At 740 miles, the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is the longest paddling trail in the nation. It runs from Old Forge through Vermont, Quebec and New Hampshire to Fort Kent, Maine.
Williams is responsible for establishing the nonprofit's website and online Trip Planner; for managing a popular film festival that annually travels the Northeast showcasing watersport films; and providing advice to hundreds of canoeists and kayakers. Her on-the-ground efforts enable outdoor enthusiasts to have amazing and memorable experiences.
"When I reflect back on my 10 years at the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, I'm blown away by the innumerable memories of amazing people contributing in important ways," Williams said.
Williams is admired for creating collaborations between individuals, partners, businesses and the paddlesport industry that not only benefit the water trail, but also enhance communities along the trail corridor.
"I, for one, will miss Kate's firm leadership," said Northern Forest Canoe Trail member Stephen Garanin. "I look forward to her notes of thanks and encouragement. She has taken a small and interesting kernel of an idea and guided it into becoming the premier water trail in the USA if not the world."
During Williams' tenure, NFCT has accomplished the following: published a 13-map series and guidebook; grown individual membership to more than 1,000 members and fundraising to a sustaining level; developed a highly effective Trail Stewardship Program that engages interns and regional volunteers to improve and enhance the multi-state route; launched a unique Youth Outdoors Program for underserved kids in trailside communities, connecting them to their backyard waterways and recruited a board of directors.
"It has not been easy times for any nonprofit during the great recession," said Lili Colby of MTI Adventurewear. "To grow the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in the face of difficult economic times speaks volumes to Kate's sound management and steady commitment. She leaves the nonprofit in great shape, a strong and vibrant organization, well connected to the membership base and the communities along the trail."
The NFCT Board of Directors is currently conducting a search for Williams replacement.