After 18 years as the executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, Robert Ruffner announced Friday that he will be stepping down.
“It was not an easy decision to leave,” Ruffner said. “This is something I have struggled with for a while.”
Ruffner said he is not going to rush the exit process, which will be steadily carried out for the next six months. The forum works with groups and organizations across the Kenai Peninsula. Ensuring those connections are left in a stable position is a priority, he said.
The forum’s board of directors will be tasked with selecting the next executive director, Ruffner said. If they ask for input, he will offer his opinion, he said.
“The organization has a stellar board of directors and staff and is financially very healthy,” Ruffner said. “Right now is perfect for a timed methodical transition.”
Ruffner said he made the decision to leave because he wants to spend more time with his two children and actually be out in the areas he has been working to protect. The job he has held for almost two decades has shifted into a predominantly administrative responsibility, he said.
Ruffner said he plans to continue to work with the forum in a part-time capacity and focus on special projects. In addition to his work with the forum, Ruffner will also stay with his current positions on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, an international conservation organization that also includes Canada, Japan the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.
Ruffner will continue his work with the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership, a local conversation group focused on fish habitat preservation.
“I am staying in the area and staying active,” Ruffner said.
Ruffner had lived on the Kenai Peninsula for one year before he applied for the newly created executive director position at the forum.
The forum, which began as a “local citizens group” focused on discussing concerns related to the health of the Kenai River, was quite unique at the time, Ruffner said. The interest also matched up with his academic background, he said.
He was the first employee hired when the organization was incorporated as a business in the mid 1990s, Ruffner said. One of the most admirable aspects of the forum was that the staff and board stuck with the original mission, he said.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.