Natasha Harrison Executive Director

Norman Bird Sanctuary announced the departure of their Executive Director in a press release today.

The Announcement

It is with a mix of sadness and gratitude that the Norman Bird Sanctuary Board of Directors announces Natasha Harrison’s departure as Executive Director, effective the first week of April, 2019.

“We knew this day would come. A bird can’t stay in the nest forever,” said Norman Bird Sanctuary Board Chair Anne Howell. “Over the past 12 years, Natasha has played a critical role in the development of Norman Bird Sanctuary, reaffirming our mission and bringing the wishes of our founder Mabel Norman to life.”

“This new opportunity came as a surprise to me and it is bittersweet because of my strong lifelong connection to Norman Bird Sanctuary as a camper, camp counselor and camp mom,” said Harrison.

“Being Executive Director of NBS has been an honor and the work that has been accomplished over the past 12 years with the most wonderful and loyal staff, amazing board of directors and dedicated volunteers has been a joy. I will always be connected to NBS and intend to continue to serve on committees as a volunteer and remain engaged in every way that I can.”

Harrison will be taking the position of President at Alnoba in Kensington, NH. The organization is a 400-acre property with ten miles of trails, a world class sculpture park, organic farm and farm stand, Leadership Program, Retreat Center, and environmentally sustainable buildings.

Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Board of Directors praised Harrison’s accomplishments during her 12-year tenure, highlighting accomplishments that included:

  • Restoring acres of wildlife habitat including New England cottontail habitat and monarch butterfly habitat
  • Developing environmental education programs including high-dosage watershed education at Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Coastal Education Center with Newport Public Schools
  • Upgrades to the property, including restoring Paradise Farmhouse, restoring the Barn Museum, revitalizing Mabel’s Garden and the Good Gardens restorations, and the construction of the ADA-compliant Universal Trail
  • Securing grant awards including the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Grant
  • Expanding longtime community relationships with partners including the Town of Middletown, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, and US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Developing successful events including the launching of the 5K Run/Walk and Beach Bash, and improving upon the traditional Harvest Fair and Birds & Breakfast fundraisers.
  • Creating new artist programs including the launch of the artist residency, “The Mabel Residency” in 2019

Over the next few months, the Norman Bird Sanctuary Board of Directors will be conducting a search to identify their new Executive Director.

“The Board is committed to finding the best individual to build upon Norman Bird Sanctuary’s amazing progress and continue Mabel Norman’s legacy,” said Howell. “We have long-range strategic planning that guides all of our projects and programs, but as Natasha says, all we need to ask is, ‘What would Mabel do?’”

The Norman Bird Sanctuary Board of Directors expressed deep appreciation for the dedication, passion, enthusiasm, and motivation Harrison has given Norman Bird Sanctuary over the years.

“Norman Bird Sanctuary will look forward to following the success of Natasha’s career, and we’re hopeful and excited for the next chapter as NBS continues its important work of environmental education and habitat conservation,” said Howell.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

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