BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – After nine years of supporting the Rich Earth Institute, co-founder Kim Nace is stepping aside from her position as executive director. “She gave [No. 1] Boss a whole new meaning,” says one staff member. Her visionary leadership has helped the institute grow from a small group of passionate community members to an organization with an internationally recognized reputation in the field of ecological sanitation.
Nace has been involved in every level of the organization, from big picture thinking to assisting with field experiments and managing urine “donations.” She has met with local and national leaders, the head of the World Toilet Organization, industry experts, members of the press, and countless community members. Of her time as executive director, Nace says, “I am so proud of the distance we have come together.”
Although she will no longer be working with the nonprofit institute, Nace will stay on part-time as the CEO of its business spin-off, Rich Earth LLC. The LLC supports the institute by developing products and tools for urine nutrient recovery.
After an extensive search, Rich Earth’s hiring committee ultimately selected Ivan Ussach for the job. “Ivan is a passionate and articulate leader who fits right in with Rich Earth’s organizational culture,” says Rich Earth Board Director John Hatton. Ussach lives in rural Franklin County, Mass., a short distance from Brattleboro, and brings a wealth of environmental and nonprofit management experience to the position.
With his background in public health and environmental toxicology, he has led and co-led several organizations working to protect watersheds and forests. As cofounder of the Rainforest Alliance, Ussach built a coalition of diverse stakeholders to create the world’s first independent sustainable wood products certification program. As director of the Millers River Watershed Council, he wore many hats and is credited with revitalizing the council. At the Sacred Earth Network, Ussach generated funding for new environmental groups throughout the former Soviet Union. “Former colleagues praised him as an innovator with an analytic mind, a great sense of humor, and a big heart,” says Rich Earth Board Member Jane Diefenbach.
As executive director, Ussach will work closely with staff and board to continue advancing Rich Earth’s mission. He says, “It’s an honor to be part of such a great team and to help lead Rich Earth Institute into the future – one where our precious, life-giving potable water is used for drinking, not flushing, and where the valuable nutrients people naturally produce are used to maintain resilient ecological systems and communities.”
The Rich Earth Institute is launching a new urine-recycling hub in the Rockingham area. This expansion of this work into Rockingham will be the first time that Rich Earth’s unique community scale model has been replicated in a new location outside of their operations in Brattleboro. Local residents can receive updates about Rich Earth’s Rockingham expansion by signing up to the mailing list here: www.eepurl.com/hlmrU1.