For long stretches Island life can feel stable, then change seems to come all at once. We fail to notice the gradual process of erosion all around us until a few dramatic storms force us to look at what has been altered.

So it is with Island leadership, the layer of people who oversee our institutions. Month in and month out, the Gazette reports when key positions turn over, a member of the old guard dies or retires, an up-and-comer leaves for love or money or more affordable housing. We say goodbye and thanks, and welcome the infusion of new blood. A loss here, a gain there, it is all part of the rhythm of Island living.

Then suddenly, as now, we experience a succession of quick changes at the top of Vineyard organizations and are obliged to think about where the Island has come and where it is headed.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, president and chief executive officer Timothy Walsh will retire in the spring of next year. Mr. Walsh has brought needed stability to a critical Island institution. Among the challenges of the next CEO: recruiting and retaining qualified physicians.

At around the same time, David Nathans, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, will depart, leaving behind an organization more vibrant than when he began the job. Realizing the vision of restoring the old marine hospital will be up to his successor.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, a search is about to begin for a new principal to replace Gil Traverso, who left in August after less than a year on the job. The search will be led by Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea who is new to the job himself, taking over this year for retiring superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, executive director Adam Turner has recently begun the work of leading the Island’s sole regional planning agency following the retirement late this summer of executive director Mark London.

And there are other changes too. Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard is beginning a search for a new executive director to replace Terre Young, who will retire next year. At the Oak Bluffs library, Sondra Murphy, the young head librarian who has transformed the town public library into a vibrant place in the space of a few short years, will leave to take a job on the mainland.

These institutions cut across a wide spectrum of the Island community, performing vital missions in disparate areas that nonetheless touch on every Islander’s quality of life. Who will take the reins? What will be their priorities? What can the Island do to ensure their success? The various search committees now being formed will have their work cut out for them.

Though it is tempting to look for a common thread in the turnover, the timing of these exits is largely coincidence. But filling these positions does indeed raise some common issues. Beyond the distinct professional qualifications needed for each of these jobs, there are issues of the Island’s affordability, especially around housing. There are cultural and lifestyle challenges for candidates and their families who move here from off-Island. There are also community values, many of them unwritten, that can influence whether and how a newcomer is accepted.

New Englanders are not noted for accepting and adapting to outsiders, but perhaps we are simply less subtle than other regional groups. Nonetheless, the Island could benefit from an approach to new arrivals that is a little less sink or swim and a little more welcome wagon.

If solving the Island’s affordable housing conundrum is unlikely to occur before spring, forming a communitywide group to support the new tier of leaders that has and will be forming over the next six months is eminently achievable. The new heads of the hospital, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the public schools, and the museum, to name just a few, will have a substantial impact on how the Island fares in the coming years. Whether they come from on or off-Island, finding ways to help a new crop of leaders understand and navigate the Island or simply adjust to new roles will help them not only succeed, but work toward the same commonly understood goals.