Chris Kennedy, the long-serving regional director for the Trustees of Reservations and a well-known figure on Martha’s Vineyard, especially on Chappaquiddick, will retire at the end of the summer.

Mr. Kennedy has been a longtime conservation leader, land manager and the friendly face of the Trustees on the Vineyard for 32 years. He has held various titles over the years.

An email announcing his retirement went out to staff on Friday.

“During his tenure, he’s overseen the management of land that contains some of the state’s most endangered habitats and species. He’s been responsible for regional environmental planning and evaluation initiatives as well as coordinating and overseeing state and federal grant programs. He’s been instrumental in our regional land conservation acquisition program, environmental education and engagement programs, and regional ecology and planning programs. He’s managed our oversand vehicle permit program and supervised a staff of nearly a hundred full time and seasonal employees. And he welcomes over 250,000 visitors annually to four public beaches,” wrote Alicia Leuba, vice president for nature and agriculture for the Trustees.

“We are grateful to Chris in so many ways,” she also said, noting that he “has been very deft at walking through all of the Island minefields, figuratively and literally, that the organization has encountered over the years – including actual bombs and submerged war planes, devastating storms, endangered shorebirds, fish eating seals, Island politics . . . just to name a few.”

Ms. Leuba also shared Mr. Kennedy’s letter informing her of his retirement. It follows:

This has got to be the toughest letter I have ever written in my life. It is with great sadness, but with great optimism for the future, that I am writing to you to announce my retirement from the Trustees, effective August 30, 2020.

So, why is it with great sadness I write this letter? It is because of my love for this organization, love for my co-workers, volunteers and faithful supporters of our mission. I will miss not being able to live on an island off of another island and leaving a place I have called home for the past 32 years. All three of my children grew up on this island and two of them now call it their home.

I am optimistic for many reasons. Whenever folks have asked me, “When do you plan on retiring?” I have always answered I’ll know when I know. I now know it is time.

What am I leaving behind? I am leaving an incredible staff of seasonal rangers, fellow managers and an incredible group of leaders of this organization who are tasked with making tough decisions that will ultimately benefit our properties, our programs and it’s lifeblood—the staff and volunteers who work non-stop to make this a world class organization.

I have had the privilege of serving this organization from the property level to the senior level and I can honestly say I looked forward to each day with The Trustees. How could you ever get bored? From plover controversies, to shark sightings, to the discovery of WW II bombs, to the years of laughter and respect from our visitors and communities, as well as the occasional barb, I was always proud to say, “I am a Trustee.” The Trustees is a place where you can build a career surrounded by caring colleagues who share your love for the outdoors, museums, historic houses and gardens.

I look forward to spending time with my beloved wife of 42 years, Carol Ann, who has supported me so that I could pursue a dream job with a dream organization. As we both get older, we will need each other more than ever and it is now time for me to be there for her, our children and grandchildren.

Alicia, it’s been a helluva ride, but it’s time for me to get off the bus and give someone else a chance at the job of a lifetime.

I will miss you all very much,