Wildlife & Recreation Coalition announces departure of longtime Executive Director Joanna Grist

July 29, 2015

For more information, contact: Vlad Gutman, 206.748.0082

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which brings together 280 non-profit and corporate partners, announced today that Joanna Grist has decided to step down in October. After 15 years with the organization, Ms. Grist has decided to leave to open a public affairs business and spend additional time with her family.

“I’m proud of the work I have done at the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition,” said Grist. “This organization’s mission promotes Washington’s quality of life, economic well-being and our natural heritage. I’m honored to have been a part of that, and am confident that the Coalition will achieve many incredible successes in the coming years.”

“Joanna has been a strong leader for our organization,” said Joe Mentor, the Coalition’s President.  “She has worked tirelessly to strengthen the Coalition and to promote outdoor recreation, to protect wildlife habitat, and preserve farmland.  We are grateful for all that she has done for the Coalition during her tenure as Executive Director.”

“Through the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, Joanna has been instrumental in raising awareness of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program with the Legislature and the public,” said Frank Chopp, Speaker of the Washington State House and Coalition board member. “She has protected the integrity of the program, and has worked with members to find funding for great projects throughout the state.”

“Joanna’s work at the Coalition has had a real and permanent impact on our state’s beautiful landscape,” said Andy Hill, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Coalition board member. “Her leadership has made possible numerous local and state parks, hiking trails, and incredible habitat lands that Washingtonians use every day. I look forward to working with her in the future, and wish her the best of luck.”

Over the course of her tenure, the Coalition has grown in size and effectiveness and becomes a national model for outdoor advocacy. It has secured $472 million for 710 Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) projects. The Coalition also successfully sought crucial updates to the WWRP grant program, including promoting tax fairness for counties that host habitat lands, new funding sources for farmland preservation and riparian lands, and strengthening the program’s independent evaluation mechanism. Under Grist, the Coalition also expanded its advocacy into the federal arena, building crucial support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.


About the Coalition

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is a non-profit citizens group founded in a historic bipartisan effort by former Governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry. The Coalition promotes public funding for Washington’s outdoors through the state Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Members consist of a diverse group of over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming and community interests. The breadth and diversity of the Coalition is the key to its success — no one member could secure such a high level of funding for parks and habitat on its own.


About WWRP

The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (RCW 79A.15) is a state grant program funded from the capital construction budget that provides funding to protect habitat, preserve working farms and creates new local and state parks. Independent experts rank the applications based on criteria such as the benefits to the public, level of threat to the property, or presence of threatened or endangered species.

What is LWCF?

Created by Congress in 1965, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is the nation’s premier federal grant program for conservation and outdoor recreation. The program uses no taxpayer dollars. Instead, $900 million in offshore oil and gas lease revenue is meant to be invested in parks and outdoor recreation opportunities each year. However, a majority of LWCF funds continue to be diverted for unrelated purposes.