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Northeast Wilderness Trust Announces Promotion of Jon Leibowitz to President and CEO, New Leadership Structure, and Hiring of Nicie Panetta to Vice President of Advancement

20 February, 2024 

Montpelier, VT – In support of its ambitious goals in forever-wild land conservation across the region, the Board of Directors of Northeast Wilderness Trust (NEWT) has voted to appoint Jon Leibowitz, formerly Executive Director, the organization’s first President and CEO. Under Leibowitz’s leadership since 2017 NEWT has conserved approximately 56,000 acres across 49 projects.  

NEWT Board Chair Dr. Mark Anderson commented, “We are immensely proud of all that the NEWT team has accomplished with Jon Leibowitz at the helm and we are grateful to Jon for his extraordinary and effective leadership. We recognize that the organization is ready for a new phase of organizational development and maturity, and we have committed to invest with care and foresight in NEWT’s future leadership at a moment of extraordinary opportunity for wilderness conservation in the Northeast.” 

Leibowitz reflected, “It is an honor to step into the role of President & CEO after almost seven years as Executive Director at Northeast Wilderness Trust.  We embark on this new chapter thanks to the incredible staff and board that I am fortunate to lead and to the growing community of supporters who have placed their trust in me and Northeast Wilderness Trust.  With gratitude for the past and wild determination for the future, I look forward to sustaining Northeast Wilderness Trust’s audacious vision for turning the dial towards a wilder future—to the great benefit of wildlife, people, and planet.”  

Nicie Panetta will join NEWT on March 1st in the newly created position of Vice President of Advancement. Panetta is a long-time non-profit and conservation leader in the Northeast. Most recently she served as Interim President & CEO of The Trustees of Reservations. In this role, she will oversee fundraising, marketing and communications. The search for a Vice President of Conservation is now underway.  “I am honored to be joining NEWT whose mission is both profound and profoundly hopeful, as it begins this new chapter of growth and impact. Together with NEWT’s outstanding team and board, I know we will expand our family of supporters, raise awareness of NEWT’s extraordinary on-the-ground impact in “forever-wild” conservation, and nurture this very special organization,” Panetta said. 

Leibowitz said, “I am thrilled to welcome Nicie to Northeast Wilderness Trust as Vice President of Advancement.  Nicie’s expertise and proven track record will undoubtedly elevate our organization to new heights, reinforcing our commitment to a wild future.” 

With a stated goal to permanently protect an additional 100,000 acres of wilderness by 2030, Northeast Wilderness Trust is uniquely focused on applying land conservation tools to protect “Nature for Nature’s sake” in the region. Leibowitz said, “Amidst the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity collapse, wilderness matters more than ever. We understand that wildlife thrives in wild Nature. We know that the most effective method of carbon storage is through the preservation of existing forests and allowing them to mature. Moreover, we recognize that wild Nature offers people space to find solace in an increasingly hectic world. Given the reality we face and the solution so clear, Northeast Wilderness Trust is resolute in its mission to significantly expand the scope of forever-wild landscapes across the Northeast. The time is now.”

About Northeast Wilderness Trust: Northeast Wilderness Trust conserves forever-wild landscapes for Nature and people and it envisions a landscape of connected, resilient wildlands shared by a human culture that recognizes the benefits of wild places. Northeast Wilderness Trust also champions wilderness in the public sphere. Across New England and New York, the Wilderness Trust secures wild places where Nature can thrive, wildlife can wander, and people can find beauty and quiet. Since its founding in 2002, Northeast Wilderness Trust has protected 81,372 forever-wild acres. Learn more at