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Deirdre Strachan: Stalwart Member of HHLT’s Board of Trustees

by Doug Warren

There is a discernible lift in Deirdre Strachan’s already cheerful voice when the topic of conversation turns to Harpswell, her adopted home and the town she loves. “It’s such a beautiful community, with so much to offer,” she says.

Strachan, who moved to Harpswell from Massachusetts in 1998 after a distinguished international career in public health services, has been doing her best to keep it that way. A member of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust’s Board of Trustees for nine years, and its current vice president, Strachan is stepping down this summer, although she’ll continue to use her grant-writing skills as a volunteer on the Development Committee.

“I absolutely love the people who work with the Land Trust because they’re focused on protecting Harpswell’s natural resources and its working waterfront,” Strachan explains.

The feeling is definitely mutual. Land Trust Executive Director Reed Coles says of Strachan: “Deirdre has been a stalwart member of HHLT’s Board of Trustees, always ready to help and willing to lead on the difficult work of raising the money needed to fund our activities. Her commitment and dedication has been instrumental to the vast increase in our conservation, stewardship and educational activities.”

Strachan, 70, says she first met Coles while she was working with the Campaign to Keep Holbrook’s Working, a project of the Holbrook Community Foundation. When she joined the HHLT board in 2006, she was also helping to develop the town’s Open Space Plan as a member of Harpswell’s Conservation Commission, where she currently serves as vice chair. Strachan says the commission received valuable assistance from Coles in putting together the plan.

“I found that the Land Trust had a very important mission in helping to protect the marine economy of the town,” she explains. “I wanted to be a part of that.”
Over the years, Strachan says, the Land Trust’s core purpose has remained the same, but the organization’s ability to implement the educational and outreach part of its mission has expanded.

“Our Community Viewpoints survey in 2011-2012 identified the need to find someone to make outreach a reality,” she says. “And the good news is that we found someone absolutely fabulous in the person of (Outreach Coordinator) Julia McLeod.”

Strachan says that bringing McLeod on board — and the additional fundraising, including substantial support from the Holbrook Community Foundation, to make her position full-time — is among the most satisfying accomplishments during her time on the Land Trust’s Board of Trustees.

She recognizes that there will be challenges ahead but she remains optimistic about the future. She’s open to returning to the Board of Trustees after the mandatory year off after nine years of service. “Nothing would please me more,” she says. In the meantime, she’ll enjoy her home overlooking Quahog Bay and take advantage of what Harpswell has to offer residents and visitors alike.

“There are so many lovely places to go here,” she says. “You’ll probably find me down at Pott’s Point with my grandchildren.”

May 2015