On Friday 21st July, NPA celebrated Kevin’s 7½ years of amazing commitment to NPA as its CEO. NPA President, Anne Reeves, gave a warm speech of recognition for his achievements.

Kevin came to us from Adelaide Zoo where he had a major role in setting up the then new Panda exhibit. And before that he had a long history of working with animals, particularly birds, including a stint with Taronga Zoo. Kevin’s life long interest in animals, with skills honed by his 28 years experience in a succession of zoologically related employment, means we have been fortunate to have a CEO who has served NPA with amazing commitment as an administrator and campaigner – and a great grasp of animal psychology!   Emotional intelligence he calls it.

Kevin was thrown in the deep end, soon after he started, with his very first State Council meeting up at Iluka – an eye opener in many ways, for us and for him, as he settled into the NPA ‘family’. The Iluka meeting celebrated the reservation of Washpool rainforest protection with NPA stalwarts like Peter Morgan, Jim Tedder, Alan Catford and Heather Roy; and featured amazing tales from John Whitehouse about the early days of NPWS establishment.

Under Kevin’s watch we have experienced both ups and downs – influencing and influenced by the politics of the day. Highlights include:

No Hunting campaign: Kevin steered us through the heady days of building alliances and rallies, spearheading defeat of the political, but ill-thought, move by then Premier O’Farrell to allow recreational hunting in National Parks, spuriously badged as pest control.

Great Eastern RangesOver the past eight years Kevin has also been active in building an alliance with the GER initiative – and will continue the NPA link as a Board Member of the now independent NGO under the Chairmanship of former Minister for the Environment, Bob Debus.

Citizen Science and scientific expertise: Kevin has built up a solid biological science based professional element in our NPA staff team, including through the early appointment of Kirstin Proft, succeeded by Dr Grainne Cleary and now Dr Oisin Sweeney.   Under Kevin’s watch NPA has managed to secure a number of grants for ground-breaking ‘citizen science’ projects, such as the Dragons of Sydney, Bringing Back the Buzz and Who Lives on my Land, with wonderful project staff, currently lead by Margot Law.

MarineKevin – a scuba diver from before he came to NPA – has fostered work on marine conservation, particularly around proposals for a Sydney Marine Park, underpinned by the passion of Gary Schoer and others, notably former President John Turnbull.

A strong core teamKevin has maintained and recruited a wonderful, harmonious, dedicated and reliable staff team, Fae Barton, Diane Latta, Kiran Charles. To quote from a recent interviewee – “many in the conservation movement would like to work for NPA”.

Advocacy and collaborationsKevin has been our key spokesperson; with the media, the bureaucracy and the politicians – a challenging role, especially in latter times with an increasingly disengaged State Government. He has been a key player in the work of the NSW Environmental Liaison Office, both as regular participant and in deputations and discussions. He has also been an important link with our sister groups in the National Parks Australia Council – including as ‘manager’ of their part-time research officer Dr Sarah May.

There is so much more

The life of an NPA CEO is multifaceted – it is impossible to cover all the many great and small ways Kevin has contributed – from greenery in the office to confronting the Minister. So many people have told me how much they want to pass on their appreciation of Kevin’s time with NPA in his role as CEO.

Thank you Kevin. We wish you well in your new life in the Bellinger Valley, and look forward to your ongoing participation as a member and supporter of NPA.