Drumlin Farm Bids Farewell To Longtime Director, Welcomes Successor

Release Date:
June 22, 2015

LINCOLN, MA—After a dozen years as Sanctuary Director of Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, where she has guided the Mass Audubon nature center and working farm to unprecedented levels of popularity and relevance, Christy Foote-Smith is retiring.

Her final day is Friday, June 26 at the 206-acre property in south Lincoln, “where I’ve been so happy, enjoying the job I always wanted to have,” Foote-Smith said.

Succeeding her is Renata Pomponi, who for the past eight years has served in education and visitor-engagement positions of increasing responsibility at the wildlife sanctuary, most recently as Program Innovation Coordinator.

Foote-Smith has overseen impressive growth at Drumlin Farm, including new exhibits and expanded facilities, the nature preschool, and an all-accessible trail for people with disabilities.

She also has been a steady hand in completing one capital campaign early in her tenure and putting the present campaign on steady footing.

At a recent party given in her honor at the sanctuary, attended by nearly a hundred friends, supporters, and staff, it was announced that a number of generous gifts made in her honor had triggered matching funds,  elevating the current $4.7 campaign beyond the halfway point.

“I’m so proud that friends of Drumlin Farm would step up that way,” Foote-Smith said. “That was a very emotional moment for me.”

For now, the former state environmental official and wetlands specialist is focusing on the full-time move from her home in Lincoln to Vermont, where she and her husband will enjoy their retirement. “But maybe not really retired,” Foote-Smith said with a chuckle. “I’d like to volunteer for a group or organization where my skills and interests might be a good match.”

Her successor as sanctuary director understands she’ll be following in inspiring footprints.

“Christy has accomplished so much for Drumlin Farm, both at the wildlife sanctuary and throughout the community, and I’m looking forward to building on that,” said Pomponi, a Sudbury resident. “We have an amazing staff to work with, and I’m already making new friends among our terrific volunteers and neighbors.”

Andrea Lukens, Regional Director for Mass Audubon’s North Shore and Greater Boston Region, which includes Drumlin Farm, said Foote-Smith’s departure will be felt deeply, but that the transition has been designed to pass the sanctuary’s leadership to Pomponi seamlessly.

“Christy is leaving a legacy for all of us, both the Drumlin Farm community and Mass Audubon,” Lukens said. “And we’re confident Renata will convey a sense of continuity and stability, while bringing her own experience and skills to the Sanctuary Director’s position.

“The many thousands of people who’ve come to love Drumlin Farm, including children and families, have much to look forward to,” Lukens said.

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Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.