From the Office of the Director

Marty Holtgren PHD
Executive Director
Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

A few weeks ago as I began writing this article, it occurred to me that it would be my final communication as MRWA executive director. After three years leading the organization, I will transition to a new part-time role as a watershed scientist.  This obviously represents a very significant change for me and has caused me to understand with absolute clarity what people mean when they use the phrase “mixed emotions.”

I have loved every minute of my time directing the fortunes of this outstanding organization and feel sad to leave for so many reasons.  I will definitely miss the daily interactions with my fellow staff members who are devoted to keeping the operation running smoothly. In particular, I have enjoyed working side by side with MRWA office manager Patricia Jarrett. She patiently taught me the ropes in the early days and supported me through all the good and bad days that followed. Thank you Pat. I could not have done it without you.

I am also very grateful to our outstanding board of directors, a talented and diverse group who are passionate about our organizational mission and the good work we do. I will definitely miss working with each of you.

Yet, there are many reasons to feel good about the past three years and hopeful for the future. I am honored to have served the MRWA to the best of my ability and feel a sense of pride in our accomplishments. More importantly, the future success of the MRWA is now in the hands of a very capable executive director. Many of you are aware that Scott Faulkner assumed the leadership role on April 1st. Scotts brings a wealth of experience and an impressive skill set to the job. I am very pleased to turn the office over to him.

Over the transition, I have reflected on how I have continually felt that MRWA is in a state of change; we have expanded our partnerships, pursued diverse projects and grant opportunities, and dealt with financial challenges.  I know each of you understands that change can be exhilarating, challenging and often exhausting.  We continue to evolve as an organization as evidenced by four new executive board members who were appointed over the past three months.  Each of them brings a unique perspective and background.

As I consider our mission of protecting and restoring the Muskegon River watershed,  I realize clearly that in order to be true to that mission, we must be ever changing and responsive. Efficiency when addressing current issues is important but not more than the ability to anticipate new opportunities, partnerships, and emerging conditions.  The watershed itself is dynamic and every day we experience something new:  the waters rise or fall, temperature changes, trees fall, and insects hatch.

You have probably noticed that we have recently focused heavily on dam removal, reforestation, and research to identify important activities necessary to the health of the watershed.  You will continue to see significant change, which represents a healthy and responsive organization that is purposeful.  I am excited to see how Scott Faulkner and our expanded board direct the course for the organization.  I already know that Scott is focused on finding new and novel partnerships while making sure that we meet the needs of the communities in all areas of the watershed.  So as difficult as it is for humans to embrace change it is essential…it will keep OUR organization resilient, responsive and effective.  I look forward to the next chapter.


Muskegon River Watershed Assembly Welcomes New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly (MRWA) announces the appointment of Mr. Scott Faulkner of Newaygo, Michigan as incoming Executive Director to the organization, effective April 1st, 2021.  According to Board Chairman Ken Johnson of Muskegon, “Mr. Faulkner was selected from a substantial pool of highly qualified candidates by our Executive Search Committee.  Mr. Faulkner received unanimous support from our Board on Monday March 15, 2021.”

Chairman Johnson added, “The MRWA is enthusiastic to more actively engage a broad range of stakeholders and accomplish important projects that benefit the entire watershed.  We believe Scott’s lifelong experience as a business and social entrepreneur, a Senior Manager, and a non-profit supporter, along with his recent government experience makes him a terrific choice for our expanded mission at this time.”

Previous Executive Director Marty Holtgren, PhD, will now hold the position of MRWA Principal Watershed Scientist, having led the expanded portfolio of MRWA research and field projects in recent years to include reforestation, Lake Sturgeon assessments, and shoreline bank stabilization, as well as furthering a range of educational, scientific, and conservation initiatives.  These initiatives, along with a small series of targeted private dam removals, have had substantial positive impact throughout the watershed.

“The MRWA is a high-impact organization with a diverse Board of Directors from across environment, education, science, and business disciplines”, stated incoming Executive Director Scott Faulkner. “In order for the MRWA to thrive in a post-pandemic world and provide for future economic resiliency, we will need to not only embrace and showcase the critical environmental work that is our legacy, but also seek to collaborate with and strengthen communities and businesses throughout the watershed.  We will do this together through a portfolio of innovative services and projects, recognizing that a healthy environment strengthens local economies and enhances property values.”
The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is dedicated to the preservation, protection, restoration, and sustainable use of the Muskegon River, the land it drains, and the life it supports, through educational, scientific and conservation initiatives.

The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is a Michigan 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation.

Contact Information:
The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly
c/o Ferris State University
1009 Campus Drive JOH 200
Big Rapids, MI 49307-2280

Phone: 231-591-2334
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