After 14 years at the helm of Save The Bay, long-serving executive director Jonathan Stone plans to voluntarily retire from his position at the environmental nonprofit effective June 30, 2023.
“During his time with Save The Bay, Jonathan has been an enthusiastic, mission-driven leader who has charted a strong and steady course for the organization through thick and thin,” noted Save The Bay board president Gilbert “Gib” Conover in a statement.
“His passion for the mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay has been reflected in all that we have been able to achieve under his leadership—from advocacy, habitat and legislative victories, to organizational improvements, including the strengthening of our board structure, and the implementation of our latest strategic plan, which has set forth goals related to advocacy, education, and diversity, equity and inclusion. He leaves the organization stronger than it’s ever been.”
“I’ve always felt that it is a privilege to work at Save The Bay,” noted Stone. “It’s an organization with a proud history of achievement, and it’s been a privilege to make history as a part of it. It’s been the most rewarding, engaging and fulfilling work experience of my life. While I’ll take the satisfaction of our many achievements with me, what I’ll remember most are the people: the relationships I’ve built with our team, board members, supporters, and partners.”
Under Stone’s leadership, Save The Bay has successfully challenged proposals that threatened Narragansett Bay; sounded the alarm on changing climate conditions; tackled dozens of habitat restoration projects; and expanded the organization’s regional impact by establishing the Narragansett Bay Riverkeeper program and growing the organization’s South County Coastkeeper program.
In the last 13 years, the organization has championed several major environmental legislative victories—including the Cesspool Phaseout law of 2015 and the recent creation and funding of the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience (OSCAR) Fund—while also advocating for and supporting the development of critical programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast New England Program (SNEP). During this time, Save The Bay strengthened its environmental education program, with the introduction of two custom-built education vessels and the current construction of a new aquarium in Newport; meanwhile, the organization also secured its financial foundation, retiring all debt in 2020.
“I’m proud to say that with improved financial sustainability and a plan for growth—both with the expansion of our habitat restoration capacity, and the building of the new aquarium—we have positioned Save The Bay for continued progress in its mission to protect and improve Narragansett Bay,” said Stone. “It’s time to hand the reins to a new leader who is ready to guide this next chapter.”
Stone is the fourth executive director to lead the 52-year-old environmental organization. The Save The Bay board will be assembling a search committee in the coming months, but, for now, Stone offers some final words of advice to the Bay community with the news of his departure:
“The saving of Narragansett Bay is not complete. This extraordinary natural resource deserves constant care and stewardship. It remains the responsibility of all of us to ensure that it is healthy, protected, and treated with respect for the benefit of us all, today, and in the future.”