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Williamstown Rural Lands Hires New Executive Director
08:24AM / Thursday, March 31, 2022
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williamstown Rural Lands (WRL) announced that Robin Sears has been selected as its new Executive Director.
Sears is an interdisciplinary scientist whose previous work at the intersections of forests and people, farming and forestry, and science and policy positions her well to lead WRL. 
"I am thrilled to join the community of land stewards here at home after focusing for decades on forest management in the tropics," she said. I look forward to working with Williamstown residents, farmers, and community members to steward the rich natural and cultural assets around us for all to enjoy now and in the future.”
Sears has spent much time engaged in field research in rural and wild areas such as the Amazon, the Andes, and
the Himalaya. Sears was recently elected to the Society of Woman Geographers.
Sears is a New England native, growing up in Leverett and completing her Bachelor of Science in botany from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After two decades working in the international sphere, Sears returned to the Pioneer Valley in 2016 as Visiting Professor of Forestry at Hampshire College. 
She deepened her connection to our local landscape during a Charles Bullard Fellowship at the Harvard Forest in 2018, after which she put down roots in Williamstown.
"I mark trees in my mind when I walk around these forests – as future timber, critical wildlife resource, or to be thinned – and consider the full suite of ecosystem services our fields and forests provide," she said.
While at Columbia University, Sears contributed to country-level strategic planning on achieving the Millennium Development Goal 7 on Environmental Sustainability. She shifted to international education and from 2007-2014 as chief academic officer of the School for Field Studies (SFS), which afforded her the opportunity to work with faculty and community leaders in disparate regions of the world. She led the team in establishing the SFS program in Bhutan, where she maintains close contacts.
Sears is currently a Research Affiliate at the Center for International Research and Forestry (CIFOR) and represents North America as a core member of the Forest Ecosystems Specialist Group of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of
Nature. She plans to leverage those and other links to tie Williamstown Rural Lands to the global community.
"We are excited to bring someone with Robin’s experience and interests to Rural Lands. Her knowledge, understanding of the local Williamstown area and her warmth and excitement will make her a great new leader,” said WRL President Greg Islan.
Sears will work with the WRL staff and board and with community members in the coming months to prepare for a strategic planning process in the fall. You will undoubtedly enjoy interacting with her at Sheep Hill, on the trails, and at the upcoming Sheep-to-Shawl event on May 7.
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