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Oak Creek Watershed Council welcomes new executive director

Jonathan Lutz

Jonathan Lutz

Oak Creek Watershed Council, an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the health of Oak Creek in Northern Arizona, welcomed Jonathan Lutz as its new executive director on July 18. Lutz, who recently worked in the same role at Tucson Audubon Society for three years, has over 14 years of nonprofit leadership experience.

Oak Creek Watershed Council began the search for a new Executive Director with the announcement that the organization’s previous executive, Kalai Kollus, departed for graduate studies after four years of service. Kollus, who was working in a part-time capacity, strengthened partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and laid the foundation for the Council to recruit and hire a full-time director.

“Jonathan’s experience leading conservation nonprofit organizations through transitions and periods of growth was a leading factor in our decision to hire him,” said Board Chairwoman Lisa Winters. “His devotion to water—as a hiker, paddler, and fly fisherman—was an added bonus.”

While at Tucson Audubon Society, Lutz oversaw 40-plus payroll employees and managed an annual budget of $2.7 million. Under his direction, the organization erased a multi-year operating deficit within two years, while simultaneously growing the organization’s core staff by 38%. During his tenure, Lutz produced historically high fundraising results through donor engagement and annual campaigns. He also provided leadership and oversight for the development of policy positions and landscape-scale habitat restoration strategy. A globally known birding preserve in the Sonoita Creek watershed (Patagonia, Arizona) grew by 11 acres under Lutz’s leadership.

Lutz divides his time between the Oak Creek watershed and his full-time home in Tucson. In the coming months, Jonathan will be supporting two recently hired watershed technicians who are engaged in water quality sampling and waste cleanup efforts. Lutz is also working closely with the Council’s board of directors to develop a new strategic plan.

“I am excited to join Oak Creek Watershed Council at this critical juncture, as the demands on the watershed’s communities, visitor amenities, and the creek itself continue to grow and face significant challenges,” said Lutz. “I look forward to working with the Council’s many collaborators and engaging with the diverse community of creek users as we endeavor to preserve and protect the health of Oak Creek.”

Community members can meet Jonathan Lutz at the upcoming Pickin’ Up in the Pines Event to be held on Saturday, Sept. 17, beginning at 9 a.m. Participants will meet at the Forest Road 237 dispersed camping area. Registration is required. Information can be found by visiting the Council’s website, www.oakcreekwatershed.org.

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