New FOA president: ‘Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?’

Eric Stiles

BAR HARBOR — Eric Stiles, president and CEO of New Jersey Audubon for the past 10 years, wasn’t looking for a new job.  

But when he learned that Friends of Acadia (FOA) had launched a search for a new president and CEO, he thought, “This could be really amazing.” 

“When you look at what that organization has managed to accomplish, who wouldn’t want to be part of that cutting-edge but very thoughtful approach to conservation?” 

FOA announced last week that Stiles will succeed David MacDonald, who stepped down last month after 10 years at the helm. He will start in early July. 

He and his wife, Lydia, have a daughter in college and a son who will graduate from high school in June. 

“As a family, we’re very passionate about the outdoors, about spending time in nature,” Stiles said. 

He told the Islander that Acadia National Park, which they have visited about a dozen times, is one of their favorite places. 

“It’s magical to us. It’s a unique place, with the intersection of the ocean, the mountains, the huge diversity of plants and animals.” 

He said it also is evident that Mount Desert Island has a strong sense of community. 

“That has been very clear to us just as summer tourists. There are a lot of really talented people doing excellent work and doing so collaboratively. Our family can’t wait to become part of that amazing community.” 

FOA offers a level of support for Acadia – in the form of grants, volunteers and advocacy – beyond what the federal government provides.  

Stiles said he is eager to help FOA “build upon past successes and meet future challenges” in supporting Acadia’s mission. 

“This work includes ensuring the park’s resilience in the face of climate change, engaging young people in the park, expanding diversity and inclusion, balancing visitor experience and use with resource protection, and maintaining Acadia’s amazing trails and carriage roads,” he said. 

Stiles said he looks forward to working with Acadia Superintendent Kevin Schneider and the rest of the park’s management team. 

“Kevin’s reputation for being innovative, thoughtful and entrepreneurial within a system that usually is more cautious in nature is very impressive,” he said, and cited some of the park’s current conservation projects. 

“The Great Meadow restoration is one of the most forward-thinking climate adaptation projects I have seen in the country,” he said. 

Stiles said he knows he will be inheriting an excellent, experienced staff at FOA including Conservation Director Stephanie Clement, who is serving as interim president and CEO until he takes over in July. 

Stiles has held leadership positions at New Jersey Audubon, the state’s largest conservation organization, for 21 years. He previously worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Eric brings two and a half decades of conservation leadership experience, a deep commitment to environmental and social justice issues, and great energy and passion for preserving and protecting our parks and natural areas,” said Jack Kelley, chair of the FOA board of directors. 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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