Gene and Michelle after the announcement
Photo by: Hannah Letinich

Gene Duvernoy Announces Retirement at 2018 Forterra Annual Breakfast

Gene takes a new role after three distinguished decades as Forterra’s president. Michelle Connor becomes Forterra's next president and CEO.

After nearly thirty years at Forterra’s helm, Gene Duvernoy will retire as President and CEO. The news was announced Thursday morning at the Forterra Annual Breakfast. Longtime colleague Michelle Connor will become the organization’s new leader.

Gene will have a continuing role as champion of Earth Day Northwest 2020 and special advisor to Michelle, as new President. Michelle has worked at Forterra since 1994, when Gene hired her as the first employee. Most recently she has served as Executive Vice President of Strategic Enterprises.

Watch the surprise announcement at the Forterra Annual Breakfast on Thursday. For all the details read our press release, or the stories in the Seattle PI (by veteran columnist Joel Connelly) and the Puget Sound Business Journal (by editor-in-chief Emily Parkhurst; subscription required for complete article).



Gene Duvernoy co-founded Forterra (formerly the Cascade Land Conservancy) in 1989 in the attic of his home, building on the work of dedicated volunteers like Gerry Johnson. In the nearly thirty years since, Gene’s bold leadership and entrepreneurial spirit have grown the organization into one of the country’s most innovative land trusts, securing keystone places in every landscape across Washington — urban, rural and wild.

Landmark conservation projects during Gene’s era include the East Lake Sammamish Trail, a rails-to-trails conversion; the 320-acre Maury Island Marine Park and the 275-acre Maury Island Natural Area, forestalling two proposed gravel mines; the 50,000-acre Teanaway Community Forest, protecting headwaters of the Yakima Basin watershed; Two Sisters Return near Snoqualmie Falls, safeguarding sites sacred to the Snoqualmie Tribe; the yet-to-be-named Wayne-Sammamish regional park, saving 90 acres of a scenic former golf course in Bothell from conversion to luxury homes; Riverbend Farm near Arlington, reversing a subdivision and returning rich ag land to farming; and the coming Wadajir International Marketplace in Tukwila, helping Somali immigrant and refugee families build prosperity and stability in their adopted community.