By Micah Drew

Mantas Announces Retirement


Micah Drew, Pathfinder

Soon to be retired SVC Executive Director Maria Mantas cheers on dancers during the Shintangle.

SWAN VALLEY - Maria Mantas, the executive director of Swan Valley Connections for the last four years, will be retiring this fall.

"A good executive director keeps the family together, keeps the team together," said Mantas. "I call myself the head cook and dishwasher."

Before her stint with SVC, she worked for The Nature Conservancy as the Science and Stewardship Director, and was a plant ecologist for the Flathead National Forest prior to that.

"I've spent about 30 years doing conservation work in this area and I've loved every minute of it," said Mantas, who still plans to be involved with conservation. "I won't [go cold turkey] but it will enable me the opportunity to volunteer in programs that I feel strongly about."

Mantas hopes to do some work for the Montana Native Plant Society, which she helped found, get involved with the Swan Lakers and plans to do some work for SVC in a small role.

"I can still be part of, and engage in, all kinds of great conservation things," she said. "But at a slower pace and my own speed."

In her years of contributing to the Western Montana conservation scene, Mantas has been part of projects such as the Montana Legacy Project which helped purchase more than 312,000 acres of timber lands and make them accessible to the public.

First with Swan Ecosystem Center and now SVC after SEC's merger with Northwest Connections, Mantas helped continue the conservation and education efforts of the organization.

"Our goal is to connect people with the natural world," she said. "They appreciate this beautiful place they live in but understanding it really helps grow that appreciation."

Mantas will be missed in her role as executive director.

"It's very sad to see someone go that has built the company and made it as strong as it is," said SVC Marketing Coordinator Susan Novosel.

The new executive director, Rebecca Ramsey, will come on board in September and work with Mantas for a few weeks before taking over. Ramsey currently works as the Watershed Coordinator for the Ruby Valley Conservation District in Sheridan, Mont.

"We are thrilled to have found someone with Rebecca's breadth of experience and reputation to join the team and lead our organization," wrote Mantas in an email. " Rebecca came highly recommended from various partners and we believe she will be a perfect fit."

Even though Mantas will no longer be at the head of SVC's conservation efforts, she will continue to be a strong presence in the Swan Valley and will keep building her relationships with the conservation community.

"I've spent my entire career in Western Montana- over all those years you get to know and meet pretty much everybody in conservation from every organization," said Mantas. "The biggest takeaway is the amazing conservation practitioners I've worked with over the years."


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