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MRWC names new executive director

LAWRENCE — Curt Rogers has joined the Merrimack River Watershed Council as its new executive director.

“We are excited to have Curt join the MRWC team,” said board President Sarah Boehm. “Curt’s experience leading other non-profit organizations will be an asset as he works with our staff, board and volunteers to make a positive impact in the watershed.” 

The council is a grassroots, local environmental nonprofit formed in 1976 and dedicated to improving the health and vitality of the Merrimack River, the 4th largest river in New England.

Rogers brings over 20 years of nonprofit executive director experience to MRWC, with in-depth experience in strategic leadership, financial and program management, community engagement, and policy advocacy.

“I am honored to join MRWC and contribute to its long history of advocacy for the Merrimack River,” Rogers said.

Rogers founded and grew the Massachusetts state-wide GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project to a $1 million organization, created pioneering new programing, built a robust volunteer network, and helped secure the first congressionally-passed LGBT non-discrimination provision. He has a highly successful track record of securing and managing federal and state contracts. He also led the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society during a transition period and focused on systems analysis/improvement, financial management, and leveraging IT to increase efficiency.    

“I look forward to applying my nonprofit management skills at such a leading environmental advocacy organization. Hopefully, my work can leverage and support the highly respected expertise of our dedicated staff to bring MRWC’s work to a new level – and a healthier, cleaner river.”

Rogers joins the council at a time when the Merrimack is at a crossroads – it is far cleaner than it once was, but it faces a new slate of pollution challenges fueled by rapid development, climate change and new types of contaminants that scientists and environmentalists are just starting to identify and understand.

 The once-heavily polluted Merrimack has undergone a remarkable recovery in recent decades. It is now home to a healthy population of wildlife, such as shortnosed sturgeon and bald eagles. It also provides drinking water to over 600,000 people, and has become the centerpiece of economic revitalization in cities such as Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell and Manchester.

But the river also faces significant challenges from the impacts of climate change, rapid development, sewage discharges, polluted stormwater, and emerging contaminants such as microplastics, pharmaceutical waste and PFAS “forever chemicals.” The Merrimack is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 Most Endangered Rivers by the U.S. Forest Service.

MRWC takes an active role in combating these threats through a broad range of strategies, such as water testing, flood mitigation, pollution source detection, Combined Sewer Overflow monitoring, dam removal, riverbank protection, habitat restoration, trash cleanups, and invasive plant species removal. MRWC works with local, state and federal partners to help direct funding to local projects that will improve the health of the river. MRWC is also heavily focused on providing Merrimack Valley residents with opportunities to learn about the river and appreciate what it has to offer, hosting a wide range of educational talks, outdoor hikes, guided tours, kayaking opportunities, classroom education, and volunteering events.