Virginia Johnson, CEO and executive director for Ecology Action, is going to miss working at Santa Cruz’s well-known environmental nonprofit when she resigns tomorrow, April 11. “You can’t be some place for 17 years and not be a little bit sad,” Johnson says.
Johnson announced yesterday morning that she would be stepping down from her post at the nonprofit, which oversees $50 million a year in contracts.
Johnson says she'll be in communication with Ecology Action leaders for the next few weeks to answer questions. She says the switch to the new interim director Jim Murphy, currently serving as vice president, will be a smooth one.
“The transition will take as long as it needs to take,” Johnson says, adding that Ecology Action’s team has known about her decision for some time.
Much of Ecology Action’s success as a nonprofit has been in bringing the private sector to the green energy industry. Last June at Santa Cruz's Climate Action Summit, County Treasurer Fred Keeley called Ecology Action "the single most entrepreneurial nonprofit I think I have even come in contact with," citing the group’s ability to incentivize green innovation and allow it to make economic sense.
Johnson says that’s long been part of the group’s vision.
“If we’re going to do this good environmental work, we need to partner with all sectors,” Johnson says. “Our strength as an organization has been to partner with the community we serve and do it in a very innovative and entrepreneurial way.”
Ecology Action provided leadership and innovation for several well-known local community-based initiatives, some of which include the Monterey Bay Regional Climate Action Compact, the Green Business Program and Bike-to-Work/Bike-to-School.
Johnson says her mid-week resignation, which may come as a surprise to some, has nothing to with any health concerns. She’s says she’s a healthy person except for the “normal maladies” that might affect someone in her late fifties.
“I’m not incredibly young anymore,” says Johnson, 59. “I don’t have any health issues. I have the normal ones that come with my age, but I certainly could use a little more recreation time and some personal well-being time for sure."