Friday, December 15, 2023

North Branch Land Trust Announces Stephen Maakesta As New Board Chair

Regional conservation nonprofit
North Branch Land Trust welcomes Stephen Maakestad as the newest Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors. 

North Branch also bids farewell to two of its stalwart directors: outgoing Chair Christina Dilks Taylor and Director Guthrie Mitchell

NBLT North Branch Land Trust is a conservation nonprofit that works with landowners and their communities to conserve the natural, working, and scenic landscapes in Northeastern Pennsylvania that enrich our lives. 

Incoming Chair Stephen Maakestad says, “When I moved to Northeastern Pennsylvania seven years ago, one of the biggest draws was the access to scenic landscapes and the natural beauty of this area.  I’ve always had a strong appreciation for the outdoors and belief in protecting our natural environments and diverse habitats.  It is an honor to serve as chair with a team of truly talented staff and board members.   I look forward to working with Ellen to carry out the land trust’s vision for a sustainable future.” 

Stephen Maakestad joined the Land Trust’s Board of Directors in 2021. He is Vice President and Director of Civil Engineering for Mericle Construction, Inc. 

He holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Penn State University and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Villanova University. 

Maakestad enjoys playing golf, baseball, and skiing in his spare time. With his combined passion and skills, Maakestad brings a robust perspective to the Chair position. 

Stephen resides in Dallas with his wife Tiffany and their three daughters. 

Outgoing Chair Christina Dilks Talyor says, “It has been a tremendous honor to serve as NBLT’s Board Chair for the last five years. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with so many people committed to protecting the unique lands and water of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Land Trust is a phenomenal organization, armed with an expert staff, dedicated board of directors and loyal membership base. I leave knowing the Organization is positioned for continued success and look forward to celebrating the completion of some of the exciting conservation projects now underway.”

Christina Dilks Taylor has served on the North Branch Land Trust Board of Directors since 2013. 

She is an active community member serving on multiple nonprofit boards and associations including CASA of Luzerne County and Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School. 

She and her family have deep connections to the land, and Taylor utilizes her professional skills to help regional organizations advance their missions. 

Taylor is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and Art History and Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management with a Master’s in Business Administration. 

Executive Director Ellen Ferretti says, “The Board members of North Branch Land Trust bring excitement, engagement, support, and a collective wisdom to our land and water conservation Mission, as well as a passion for Northeastern Pennsylvania. Under Christina’s leadership as Board Chair, the Land Trust has seen great conservation successes, changes, and growth. We will miss Christina very much for her leadership, enthusiasm, perception, and ability to see and implement the path forward. Moving ahead, we are thrilled that Stephen will be serving as the new Board Chair. Stephen has been a very active member of our Land Committee and Board, always there to lend a hand. We look forward with great enthusiasm to the next few years under his leadership!”

The Land Trust also bids a fond farewell to director Guthrie Mitchell who has served on North Branch Land Trust’s Board of Directors since 2014. 

Mitchell has been the owner of the Guthrie Mitchell Insurance Agency in Wilkes Barre and other regional satellite offices, with forty years of experience. 

He has been active in the community for many years, serving on the board at the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, PA Independent Agents Association, and Irem Temple. 

He was a trustee of Shavertown Methodist Church, past president of the Wyoming Valley Independent Agents, and a member of the Lyons Club. 

Mitchell spent his summers in Glen Summit and Cape May, New Jersey where he learned to fish and love the outdoors of Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

He believes that the northern waters of the Susquehanna and surrounding land encompass some of the most beautiful scenery found in Pennsylvania.

Outgoing Director Guthrie Mitchell says, “Over the remarkable span of nine years with NBLT, I have witnessed an awesome and awe-inspiring journey. The tireless efforts of the organization’s staff and volunteers, who serve to care for our breathtaking landscapes, have been nothing short of extraordinary.  Surrounded by the beauty of these conserved lands, I could not be prouder to support such an impactful organization. NBLT’s legacy of preserving our natural heritage is a testament to the power of collective commitment and passion for our resources.”

North Branch Land Trust conserves lands, waters, and vistas in an eight-county region of Pennsylvania (Bradford, Susquehanna, Sullivan, Wayne, Wyoming, Lackawanna, Luzerne, and Columbia) in the Upper Lehigh and Susquehanna North Branch Watersheds. 

For more information on land conservation, programs, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the North Branch Land Trust website, following them on Facebook and TwitterClick Here to sign up for regular updates (bottom of page).

(Photo: Stephen Maakestad, Ellen Ferretti, Christina Dilks Taylor.)

[Posted: December 15, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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