PORTLAND, ORE. – May 30, 2023 – The Ecotrust Board of Trustees announced today it has selected Ronda Rutledge as its next Executive Director. The appointment of Rutledge follows a rigorous nationwide search that attracted a strong pool of more than one hundred applicants.
A respected leader of nonprofits for more than 25 years in California and Texas, Rutledge will begin her tenure as the Executive Director of Ecotrust on June 1. She assumes the position following Olivia Rebanal as the interim. Rutledge most recently served as the Executive Director of Sustainable Food Center (SFC) in Austin, TX for 14 years where she successfully led a $4.5M capital campaign to build a new headquarters.
“Throughout the interview process, what stood out about Ronda is her strong track record of people- and equity-centered leadership, her knowledge of anti-racist practices and work, and her commitment to increasing 3E outcomes for people, planet, and profit in the communities we partner with in our bioregion,” said Cat Goughnour, Ecotrust board chair. “We admire her leadership philosophy, which is to create more leaders, not followers—a philosophy that aligns with our goals for shared leadership at Ecotrust and beyond.”
Rutledge will be the first Native American to lead Ecotrust. She’s a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and her family goes back five generations to their original homeland in the Cherokee territory of the eastern US. Following removal to Oklahoma, her family relocated to Texas where she was born, and she grew up in west Texas. After graduating with a Master of Science degree in psychology from Angelo State University, she provided marriage and family counseling before moving to California to work at the American Indian Child Resource Center.
“The American Indian Child Resource Center is where I first caught the nonprofit bug,” said Rutledge. “I was privileged to lead an organization that served families of more than 200 tribes through Indian education programs, foster care, and teen pregnancy prevention. It was a rewarding and educational experience to work in and for a community that means a great deal to me.”
At SFC, she expanded her experience and impact to help transform the local food system into one that nourished the health of the community and land through a just, equitable, and regenerative food system.
“It was while I was the Executive Director of SFC that I first learned about Ecotrust,” said Rutledge. “I was participating in a conference in Oregon partly sponsored by Ecotrust. I was so impressed by their origin, focus on environmentalism, and partners, and I continued to admire them from afar over the years. I’m still amazed that I now get to help them fulfill their incredible mission.”
Ecotrust is in the middle of their five-year strategic plan. In the first couple of months, Rutledge intends to listen, learn, and help operationalize the strategic plan while further developing connections with Ecotrust’s community.
During her time as a nonprofit executive, Rutledge successfully led her agencies through two economic downturns, stewarding meaningful programmatic expansion and exponential growth. Her professional career has included individual and family counseling, as well as leadership coaching and development; visioning and strategic planning; work in diversity, equity, and inclusion; and policy advocacy. She uses an emotional intelligence framework with employees, resulting in happier and more fulfilled people which leads to a more joyful, productive work environment.
Based in Portland, OR, Ronda and her husband have twins currently attending the University of Oregon.
Ecotrust creates and accelerates triple-bottom-line innovations to benefit our region and inspire the world. Our work is rooted in the region from California to Alaska that holds productive lands and determined people. On the farm, at the coast, in the forest, and across our cities, we work in partnership towards an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. We recognize the legacy of colonialism and the deep inequities of this place, and we believe that radical, practical change is possible and necessary. Since 1991, we have created durable change and sparked ideas across the globe. Join us at ecotrust.org.