Press Release

MALT Announces Retirement of Executive Director Bob Berner 

February 13, 2012

Pt. Reyes Station, Calif. – Long-time Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) Executive Director Bob Berner has announced that he plans to retire as Executive Director of the farmland conservation organization at the end of 2012. Berner joined MALT as its first Executive Director in 1984, four years after it was co-founded by dairywoman Ellen Straus and biologist Phyllis Faber to protect family farms and ranches in Marin County. He translated their vision of a farmland trust, for which there was no precedent, into a national model.

“I have had the extraordinary privilege of serving this wonderful organization for more than 27 years,” said Berner. “It has been especially rewarding to work with the ranching and farming families who have been taking care of the land for generations and who have helped make Marin such a unique and extraordinary place. I am also proud to have worked with so many MALT members and supporters, county officials and partners to make productive agriculture and farmland preservation a priority in Marin County.”

Under Berner’s leadership, MALT developed one of the most successful farmland conservation programs in the country, protecting 68 family farms and ranches totaling 44,100 acres of farmland — nearly one-half of Marin’s privately-owned farmland. It is recognized nationally as a leader in agricultural land preservation efforts.

“No one believed when MALT was founded nearly 32 years ago that it could protect half of the farmland in Marin,” said Sue Conley, Chair of MALT’s Board of Directors. “Bob’s steadfast leadership and vision made this success possible.” MALT conservation easements protect agricultural properties from subdivision and non-agricultural development and ensure that they will remain an economically productive part of Marin’s spectacular landscape. Permanent protection of farmland has enabled working farms and ranches to thrive, producing celebrated local dairy, meat and organic produce for the Bay Area and beyond. Berner will continue to lead MALT until a successor is selected and will assist with the transition to the new executive director.

“Marin is a national leader in farmland conservation in large measure because of the quality and tenacity of Bob’s work,” said Steve Kinsey, President of the Marin County Board of Supervisors. “Bob has built a solid bridge between Marin County’s agricultural protection policies and MALT’s conservation easement program. As a result, the county’s pastoral landscape, family farms and ranches and the fresh, local food they produce have been protected in perpetuity. This is a legacy that will benefit residents of the county for many generations to come.”

A national search is underway to recruit MALT’s next Executive Director. To oversee this search process, MALT’s Board of Directors has formed a search committee to work with an executive search firm with broad experience in the nonprofit and conservation field. Berner will work with the board to find the right successor to lead MALT and support the transition to a new Executive Director.

“Because of Bob’s commitment to the continued success of MALT he has given us ample time to select a successor,” says Conley, “MALT is well positioned to continue protecting Marin’s economically productive and environmentally irreplaceable farmland into the future.”

Contact: Deirdre Holbrook, Director of Outreach and Communications, (415) 663-1158 ext. 315,