25 years of reflection, looking ahead to future UEC leadership

March 22, 2023

UEC News

It is with great pride and genuine excitement for the Urban Ecology Center (UEC), that I announce a very positive leadership transition at the Urban Ecology Center. In June, I will be stepping down from the Executive Director position and the organization will welcome new leadership. This is a change I have been working on with the UEC Board and staff for the past several years and I am happy to share that Jen Hense will become the UEC’s next Executive Director.

As I look back on the past 25 years, I am filled with a deep sense of gratitude and pride for what we have accomplished at the Urban Ecology Center. When I first took on the role of Executive Director 25 years ago, I had a specific vision for what it could become. But over time, I came to realize that the UEC is not just my vision or my baby. It is a living, breathing organism that has been nurtured and cared for by countless volunteers, staff, donors, and supporters over the years.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have played a role in shaping the UEC into the thriving organization it is today. But I am even more grateful for the many people who have contributed their time, energy, and resources to help make our vision a reality. Without the hard work and dedication of so many individuals, the UEC would not be where it is today.

Washington Park groundbreaking celebration. Photo taken by Z.

I am thrilled to announce that Jen Hense will be taking over as the new Executive Director of the Urban Ecology Center when I step down in June. Jen is a perfect fit for this job. Her dedication to connecting young people to nature and her leadership as our Director of Development has been invaluable to the growth and success of the UEC. She has garnered the trust and respect of our staff, board, donor base, and community, and I am confident that she will lead the UEC with grace, passion, and expertise.

As I prepare to step down from my role as Executive Director, I am filled with a sense of optimism and excitement for the future of the UEC under Jen's leadership. I know that she will continue to build upon our mission of connecting people to nature, and I am excited to see where she takes the organization in the years to come.

I want to thank all of our staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and supporters for their unwavering commitment to the UEC. It has been an honor to work alongside such a talented and dedicated group of individuals, and I am grateful for the many memories and friendships that have been forged over the years.

In closing, I am proud of what we have accomplished at the Urban Ecology Center, and I am grateful for the many people who have contributed to our success. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredible organization under Jen's leadership, and I am excited to continue advocating for the model of urban environmental education that we have built in Milwaukee over the past 25 years.

Past Employee
Guest Author

Ken Leinbach is a nationally recognized science educator and leader in community-based environmental education. From a trailer in a high-crime city park, Ken has had fun facilitating the grassroots effort to create and grow the Urban Ecology Center which is the topic of his first book, "Urban Ecology: A Natural Way to Transform Kids, Parks, Cities, and the World".

Striving to live with as little environmental impact as possible, Ken lives in the community in which he works and, not owning a car, commutes by bike, unicycle, roller blades, and occasionally even by kayak on the Milwaukee River.

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