Laureen RattiDuring its December 2020 meeting, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council Board of Directors nominated new leadership. After 11 years on the board and 9 years as board president, Roy Najecki stepped down. After thanking Roy for his extraordinary leadership and dedication, the board nominated and elected Laureen Ratti as President and Steve Bautista as Vice President.

We are grateful to all of our wonderful board members for their commitment and service, and we are delighted to share reflections from Laureen as she begins her next phase of leadership:

As the incoming Board Chair, I invite you to join us in celebrating and supporting the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council in our important work to continue to be a successful model of community revitalization that helps people discover this local American Heritage River and its natural resources, channeling life and economic development into neighborhoods providing pathways to discover your better nature!

We have all experienced unique challenges during 2020. For the WRWC, this year has reinforced how important it is to provide safe places for our neighbors to be outdoors. More people than ever participated in our recreation programs finding peace and joy in nature with cyclists, walkers, and runners on the bike path and northern trails.

These resources have been made possible by dedicated state and local representatives; individual and corporate donors; and our staff, River Rangers and board members. To date, 75 acres of land along the river have been restored. Parks that have long been abandoned are now renewed and used by residents. Gardens now exist where trash once lay. Wetlands have been restored where rusted cars were once discarded. Neighborhoods with beautiful, affordable housing surround some of our parks and Greenway. More than 100 River Rangers have gained professional, technical, and personal skills as a member of our seasonal team of professionals and summer youth job training program as the environmental stewards of our seven miles of paths and five parks along the Woonasquatucket River Greenway.

As you can see, together we have accomplished much. I am grateful to continue to grow with the organization in serving our river and its community. Let’s make 2021 even bigger and better with doubling the number of students that can learn outdoors; adding recreational programs that include families in tight financial situations; expanding the Greenway with more multi-use trails, canoe launches, and parks; and getting even more people in the fresh air by the river.

To get to know Laureen, Steve, and all of our board members, please visit the WRWC Board page.