Montpelier, VT   |


Founded in 2002 to fill an open niche in the regional conservation community—protecting wildlands—Northeast Wilderness Trust’s mission is to conserve forever-wild landscapes for nature and people. On forever-wild lands, people take a step back and natural processes unfold freely. Today, NEWT remains the only regional land trust in the Northeast focused exclusively on protecting wildlands and now protects over 41,000 acres across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Jon Leibowitz

Main address

17 State Street, Suite 302

Montpelier, VT 05602 USA

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NTEE code info

Forest Conservation (C36)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Northeast Wilderness Trust was founded by a group of conservationists in order to fill a niche in the regional conservation community—the conservation of forever-wild landscapes in the Northeast. No regional or local land trust focuses exclusively on protecting wilderness areas. While we value the range of compatible conservation strategies, we know that a permanently conserved landscape without resource extraction offers an unparalleled range of benefits to society. Over the past century there has been tremendous conservation progress in the Northeast, primarily oriented toward scenic, recreational, timber, and agricultural purposes. The need to complement these accomplishments with wilderness areas is critical. Conservation science suggests that wilderness areas are the crucial anchors of interconnected systems of conservation lands that can sustain biodiversity, support natural processes, and undergird human economies with a range of ecosystem services that act as climate solutions.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Land Protection and Stewardship

The Wilderness Trust uses various conservation tools--including forever-wild easements and fee acquisition (purchase)--to protect wild places across New England. The Wilderness Trust currently stewards over 32,000 acres of forever-wild land across the Northeast.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission 2015

Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission (Pending) 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of acres of land protected

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

Land Protection and Stewardship

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success


Context Notes

In total, the Wilderness Trust now protects over 37,000 forever-wild acres across six states. We aim to protect an additional 25,000 acres by 2025 as part of a new 5-year strategic plan.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our primary purpose and the focus of our work is wilderness land conservation—protecting places by owning land and holding forever-wild easements. We prioritize projects that will add resilience to nature in the long run due to their size, character and/or location. We partner with other trusts, nonprofits, municipalities and other public and private landowners to advance such protection. We promote the value of wilderness and lend our voice to efforts that advance policies and practices that support wildland conservation, remove barriers and disincentives to forever-wild protection, and contribute to a wild and healthy future.

In 2020, NWT developed a 5-year strategic plan that focuses on the single goal to "accelerate the pace of wilderness conservation" with the aim to conserve 25,000 acres by 2025.

In order to accomplish our goal, we developed four main strategies/pillars as outlined below.

Pillar 1: Protect
Accelerate and expand wilderness preservation across the Northeast for the benefit of all life.

Benchmarks: By 2025, Northeast Wilderness Trust will preserve an additional 25,000 acres of wilderness and steward 60,000 total acres. (25 by ’25!)

How We’ll Do It:
• Prioritize landscapes that emphasize connectivity
• Expand conservation in focal landscapes
• Deepen existing partnerships
• Engage new partners across the Northeast
• Be a resource for other land trusts in exemplary stewardship

Pillar 2: Connect
Strengthen our region’s collective wilderness ethic by connecting people with meaningful wildlands experiences.

Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust will implement a new online experience and an on-the-ground ambassador land program, connecting people from all walks of life to the Northeast’s extraordinary wildlands.

How We’ll Do It:
• Offer new ways to experience and love wilderness
• Create ambassador landscapes (see opposite)
• Monitor rewilding areas
• Host events centered on wilderness spirituality and science
• Launch “Friends of Northeast Wilderness Trust” groups

Pillar 3: Champion
Elevate the understanding of and support for wilderness. Wild forests offer solutions to two great global crises: climate change and mass extinction. Rewilding the world’s natural habitats offers a hopeful path toward a brighter future.

Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust will articulate and promote the importance of wilderness across the region by publishing Wild Works and other articles, presenting on wilderness, and hosting gatherings.

How We’ll Do It:
• Define a wilderness ethic for the 21st century
• Increase awareness of wilderness values
• Convene “Wilderness Gatherings”
• Present regularly across the region
• Facilitate conversations about wilderness’ benefits with partners and state and local governments

Pillar 4: Sustain
Through organizational excellence, build an enduring institution that can deliver on the promise of perpetuity.

To advance the strategies of Protect, Connect, and Champion, Northeast Wilderness Trust will employ a variety of strategies to build a deeper and wider base of support. Doing this will allow the Wilderness Trust to increase staff capacity and mission effectiveness.

Benchmarks: Northeast Wilderness Trust both operates and is viewed as an efficient, transparent, professional, and resilient organization.

How We’ll Do It:
• Broaden volunteer opportunities
• Deepen relationships with all supporters
• Cultivate new funding sources
• Ensure financial stability
• Continue using best practices

NWT has a small, dedicated staff and board who work collaboratively with other land trusts, landowners and conservation organizations across the region. We respond to opportunities and strategically identify and protect wilderness areas in the northeast. This work will leave a legacy of wild forests for future generations of all species. As a small organization NWT is nimble and lean and is able to respond to emerging opportunities with success.

For over 17 years we have adhered to the strictest standards in land conservation. In 2009 we became an accredited member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America.

Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that we meet a high standard for land conservation. It demonstrates not only that we are a strong, effective organization but also that we successfully adhere to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission's Land Trust Standards and Practices. Accreditation is a catalyst for improvement, which results in faster, better, stronger conservation.

To ensure that all land is protected in perpetuity we have a formal Stewardship Fund. For each easement or property we acquire, a contribution is made to the fund. The Stewardship Fund ensures annual support for a portion of ongoing stewardship costs. In addition, it helps to cover the costs of membership in Terrafirma, a conservation defense insurance program. In the rare instance of legal action needed to defend a wilderness property, Terrafirma insures the costs of upholding conservation easements and fee lands held for conservation purposes.

During 2019 the Northeast Wilderness Trust:

Completed a 5-year strategic plan

Hired a new staff person, bringing our staff up to 5 full-time and one part-time

Received the transfer of the 5,487-acre Burnt Mountain forever-wild easement for permanent safekeeping, further cementing a close partnership between The Nature Conservancy in Vermont, which now owns the property.

Closed on the Eagle Mountain Wilderness Preserve in Chesterfield, NY, permanently safeguarding 2,445 acres of forest and five pristine ponds. This was the single largest fundraising lift completed by the Wilderness Trust in the shortest period of time.

Secured a small but important 13-acre lot in Atkinson, Maine that will be a public access gateway to the thousands of acres we already protect in the area.

Hired two new staff positions: 1. Outreach and Communications Coordinator to build the base of support for wilderness preservation throughout the region, and 2. Southern New England Land Steward, that boosts our capacity for monitoring and managing properties and easements in the most populous corner of our mission area

Published a 2018 Annual Report detailing our work.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person),

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 9/7/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mark Anderson

The Nature Conservancy

Term: 2021 - 2024

Board co-chair

Susie O'Keeffe

Educator/Author/Conservation Land Owner

Term: 2024 - 2021

Kristin DeBoer

Kestrel Land Trust

Brett Engstrom


Jim Dehner

Indiana Land Protection Alliance

Carol Fox

Thomson Reuters

Daniel Hildreth

Diversified Communications

Rick Rancourt


Henry Tepper

Independent Environmental Consultant

Brian Tijan

Folk Art Management

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 09/07/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/07/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.