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John Judge parts way with Trustees of Reservations after just 8 months as CEO

The oldest US land trust and its chief executive blamed the split on “differences in their respective visions and approach.”

John Judge has left Trustees of Reservations after eight months as chief executive.Shun Liang

John Judge was named chief executive of Trustees of Reservations after an eight-month search.

After eight months on the job, he’s gone.

The Trustees, the nation’s oldest land trust, said on Tuesday that Judge had resigned effective at the end of the month.

A match that looked perfect when it was announced went sour quickly, though in a joint statement both sides tried to put a friendly spin on it.

“John Judge and the Trustees Board concluded together that there were differences in their respective visions and approach and that this was the right moment to go separate ways,” they said in the statement.

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Neither Judge nor a Trustees’ spokesman would comment further.

Judge started at the Trustees in February after spending nearly a decade at the Appalachian Mountain Club. He was just the fifth person to lead the organization since its founding in 1891.

His appointment followed the death of former CEO Barbara Erickson in early 2021. She had run the nonprofit since 2012 and was just 42 when she died from a rare form of appendix cancer.

When the Trustees announced Judge’s hiring last December, vice chair Nicie Panetta, who led the search committee, said they had been impressed by his experience and track record in “conservation, community building, expanding the reach of AMC to more people, and increasing awareness of climate change.”

“We have the same DNA,” Judge said at the time.

The Trustees and AMC work in their own ways to protect land and connect people with nature, and both nonprofits more recently committed themselves to fighting climate change and making the outdoors more inclusive, especially to urban residents.

But the Trustees has a much broader mission than AMC, overseeing more than 120 properties — including Crane Beach in Ipswich, Appleton Farms in Ipswich and Hamilton, and World’s End in Hingham. It also maintains public gardens, coastal ecosystems, and agricultural lands, and operates museums.

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During his time at the Trustees, Judge’s focus was more tightly focused on diversity and inclusion, and climate change, according to one manager.

“Some people benefited from that,” said the manager, who asked not to be identified. “Others felt their work wasn’t being prioritized.”

Panetta, who has been on the Trustees’ board for 15 years, has been named interim chief executive, chairman Peter Coffin said in a statement. Christine Morin, chief of marketing engagement and data, has been promoted to chief operating officer.



Larry Edelman can be reached at larry.edelman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeNewsEd.