After six years as a board member and 4.5 years as Board Chairman, Mike Lanza’s time in leadership at Conservation Voters for Idaho is coming to a close. Mike attended his last board meeting at the beginning of December, leaving large shoes to fill after over half a decade of contributions.
Mike moved to Boise, Idaho in 1998, finding bountiful work opportunities as a freelance outdoors writer, thanks to Idaho’s booming outdoor recreation industry and unparalleled natural wonders. Being a storyteller for the outdoors, conservation values come naturally to Mike.
“I’ve always viewed [conservation] in the traditional lens, that it was about protecting natural spaces and wilderness protection,” Mike says. “I was a supporter of CVI long before joining the board. I especially admired CVI’s work as the only conservation organization in Idaho that is directly involved in political races and legislation.”
The CVI Board maintains three-year terms, with a limit of two terms for any board member. The policy was first established during Mike’s first session. Mike was recruited to the CVI Board in 2015, joining Idaho’s conservation movement in a professional capacity during the organization’s successful campaign for protection of the Boulder White Clouds Wilderness Area. In those six years, CVI has grown exponentially, not just in people but in purpose.
“The organization has certainly grown quite a bit, staff, size of board, budget. I’m proud of how I contributed to helping the organization grow the way that it has in a pretty smooth manner,” says Mike. “I’ve embraced this bolder vision that the conservation movement has been taking in recent years, that it has to include democracy work and environmental justice. All those aspects that the movement was late to coming to the table on, but are now widely recognized.”
As Board Chair for the last 4.5 years at CVI, Mike’s leadership was pivotal in CVI’s successes, from electing dozens of conservation champions to office, raising $10 million for Boise’s clean water and open space through the passage of a levy, securing commitments from Idaho’s largest utility companies for 100% clean energy by 2050, and much more. The secret to his successful tenure, Mike says, is effective and consistent communication.
“I’ve always felt that the biggest responsibility of the board chair is to make sure everybody is heard and encouraging everyone to be involved,” Mike says. “I enjoyed playing the role of facilitator for other board members and our staff, and I believe that work is important.”
Despite completing his final board meeting earlier this month, Mike doesn’t expect his time with the organization to end anytime soon. Not after investing years of time, funds, and effort. But he’s looking forward to participating from the outside.
“Of course I’ll be continuing to follow CVI endorsement work and democracy work, its recruitment and training of candidates, and what those candidates will accomplish once elected. I’ll help out in any way I can, which may mean helping with fundraising, attending future Green Tie and other in-person events, voter engagement, and the Boards and Commissions program,” Mike says. “[Our programs] are much more diverse than when I first joined the board. We’re doing such important work it all fascinates me. I’m eager to see how CVI will grow, and how successful different aspects of our organization will be.”
On January 1st, the Board Chair position will be filled by current Vice Chair, Robin Nettinga.