OARS Welcomes its New Executive Director

On behalf of the OARS Board of Directors, I am thrilled to introduce Matthew Brown as our new Executive Director, starting February 7, 2024. Matt will be joining OARS from the non-profit Lowell House, where he has been serving as Chief Operating Officer.

Matt is a great fit. He is a lifelong outdoors person with a strong interest in nature and ecology, and has deep leadership and non-profit experience that will serve OARS well and take us forward into our next exciting phase.

Matt grew up in Connecticut and earned a BA in English, followed by an MA in English from Clark University and an MSc in Non-Profit Management from Worcester State University. He truly understands the value of volunteers, having volunteered throughout his life. Early on, he joined Worcester Earn-A-Bike, a non-profit community bike shop that promotes using bicycles as clean, sustainable transportation and provides free repairs and bicycles to community members in need. While there, he rose to shop manager and served on the Board of Directors. Matt raised funds, was instrumental in getting it approved as an AmeriCorps site, developed a shop mechanic course for women and minorities, and partnered with other community non-profits on social and environmental issues.

After Clark University, Matt worked as an environmental educator/deck hand at SoundWaters, a Connecticut non-profit working to preserve and improve Long Island Sound and its watershed. They operated a schooner, a teaching center, and summer camps on the boat and an island for at-risk youth. As well as being on the crew, he educated the guests about aquatic life, water/nitrogen cycle, salt marsh preservation, climate change, and other issues.

Both the environmental and social services aspects of this job resonated with him, and he went on to work with young adults with severe mental illness at Alternatives Unlimited, Inc. He became Program Director there while earning an MSc in Non-Profit Management. He spent the next several years working up the ranks at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston and then at Lowell House, a non-profit providing accessible and affordable addictions services and support to the Greater Lowell community.

While doing this, he joined the Randolph Conservation Commission, where he worked to enforce the Wetlands Protection Act and state and federal Clean Water Acts. His most significant achievements as a Commissioner were getting a developer to restore a large marsh that had been filled with waste and leading the re-writing of the town’s stormwater bylaws. He succeeded at saving land containing a wetland and hiking trails, among other parcels, on the Community Preservation Committee.

Matt now lives in Westford, where he served on the Westford Affordable Housing Committee while awaiting a seat on the Conservation Commission.

Growing up with land trust trails in the woods behind his house had a lasting impact. Matt has spent many hours hiking and mountain biking, canoeing, sailing, and kayaking, mainly on the Peconic Bay on Long Island and the Delaware River.

Wherever he’s lived, one of the first things Matt does is find out where to hike and where to put in his canoe. Like I said, he is an excellent fit for OARS!

Please join me in welcoming him to our team!

I’d like to thank the Search Committee for its thoughtful work.

Finally, thank you to Alison for her 19 years of outstanding service and leadership, right up to the end, building the incredible foundation that underlies our ambitious vision.

Best regards,

Ingeborg Hegemann
OARS Board President