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Staffing Transition at the Society

14 March 2024

Dear friends of the Thoreau Society,

It is with real sadness that we announce the departure, as of April 19th, of our long-time executive director, Michael (Mike) Frederick. As Mike leaves to explore new opportunities and allow for new leadership within the Thoreau Society, we and the other members of the Board of Directors would like to express our deep gratitude for his many years of service to the Society and his extraordinary dedication to our vision of keeping Thoreau’s writing and ideas alive around the globe and across generations.

Mike’s interest in Thoreau began with graduate study on Thoreau’s social philosophy and ethics at Harvard University-Extension School, followed by work assisting Bradley P. Dean with Wild Fruits, published in 2000. After a brief hiatus from Thoreau studies working in high tech, he began working for the Thoreau Society in 2004 and became executive director in 2006.

He came at a challenging time for the Society, when financial troubles put the organization’s survival at real risk. Thanks to careful management, vigorous fundraising, and the skillful marshaling of the Society’s greatest resource—a dedicated and talented community of Thoreauvians—Mike was able to guide the Society to sound financial footing. He oversaw the move of our Society offices to Thoreau Farm, secured a lease for the Shop at Walden Pond in the new visitor’s center, and organized the keystone Annual Gathering on the bicentennial anniversary of Thoreau’s birth. He steered the Society through the many challenges of the COVID era, served as grant administrator for several major grants, and brought the Thoreau Prize under the management of the Thoreau Society, which included a major endowment campaign that was just completed.

Through these many years of service, Mike has combined an eagerness to master the details of running a small nonprofit organization with an unwavering commitment to advancing Thoreau’s legacy into the 21st century. His knowledge of Thoreau’s writing and life is wide and always ready-at-hand. He delights in welcoming new people to the conversation about Thoreau’s importance today, and he has always been ready to connect people to old friends and treasured books and essays that would help them down their own particular path of discovery. He leaves the Thoreau Society in a strong position to continue its work.

We wish Mike all the best in his future travels, whether in Concord or far beyond it.

Best wishes,

Rochelle L. Johnson, President & John J. Kucich, Vice President, the Thoreau Society

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