Late last year, Michael Conroy was elected chair of the FSC-US board. Michael joined the FSC-US board in August 2008 and has been an individual member in the social chamber since 1994, bringing vast experience with FSC from an array of different perspectives. Michael wrote the following letter to share some thoughts with the FSC Community.

Dear FSC Family,

It is both humbling and exciting to be elected Chair of the FSC-US board of directors at this time. Humbling since I succeed Bill Hayward, who has served for three years, and Barbara Bramble who had served for the previous two years. They were both splendid Board Chairs, and they guided FSC-US through difficult times with great leadership skill and success.

I am a retired university Economics professor (University of Texas at Austin and Yale University) who also spent a dozen years in the philanthropic world at the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where I was able to manage a number of grants to the FSC over that period. So I know the system relatively well. And it’s partly for that reason that I have chosen to be part of the Social Chamber, as an individual member, because I believe that the social standards in the FSC are the most important distinguishing characteristic of the FSC, especially when compared with other forest certification systems. None of the others come even close to our standards that protect communities, workers’ rights, small-scale forest owners, and indigenous peoples.

It is exciting to take on this job, after strong performance on the part of the previous board chairs who came from the Economic and Environmental chambers. I have enormous respect and appreciation for the people working in both of those chambers, but I am convinced that it is time for FSC-US to strengthen its Social Chamber, both in terms of the number of members and in the level of effective activity on social standards within the whole organization. Working together with my fellow Social Chamber board members, Lynn Jungwirth and Bill Wilkinson, we hope to strengthen the support for FSC from powerful social development organizations and broaden the programs offered by FSC-US focused on social issues, seeking just to “catch up with” all that we do on behalf of the Economic and Environmental chambers.

Finally, I hope to foster a much higher level of collaboration between FSC-US and FSC-Canada. Much, if not most, of the FSC sawnwood and fiber consumed in the burgeoning US market for FSC products comes from our neighbors to the North. We have a healthy interdependence, and there are many opportunities for creating greater collaboration so that we become more efficient in providing services to our stakeholders and clients and more effective in meeting the needs of the hundreds of new companies that are entering the FSC system in North America every year now.

I look forward to working with the strong and growing FSC-US staff, led by our outstanding President Corey Brinkema, and to increased interaction with all FSC members in the US.


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