Leadership change at Arbor Day Foundation

Arbor Day Foundation

Arbor Day Foundation CEO Matt Harris announced Thursday, Sept. 23, he will step down as the global nonprofit’s chief executive in January 2022. 

Harris notified the Foundation’s Board of Trustees of his decision at its board meeting in Lincoln.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to elevate Foundation President Dan Lambe to the title of president and CEO effective Jan. 26, 2022, to coincide with Harris’s last day with the Foundation.

The Arbor Day Foundation is the largest international nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than 1 million members, supporters and partners worldwide.

“This was a difficult decision, with many mixed emotions,” said Harris, who has been with the Arbor Day Foundation for 18 years, serving as its CEO since 2014. “I absolutely love the impact we are having on the world and care deeply about the team we have built here, but I really feel like it is the right moment—and a natural transition point in the history of the Foundation—to step aside.”

The Arbor Day Foundation is on pace to exceed $100 million in total annual impact as measured by revenue for the first time this year and the organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary next spring.

“Under Matt’s leadership, the Foundation has attained almost unimaginable growth and extended the reach and impact of the Arbor Day Foundation’s mission to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees on a global scale,” said Pat Covey, Arbor Day Foundation Board of Trustees chair. 

“Matt has built an unparalleled team and organizational culture that is well positioned to build upon the momentum he established as CEO,” said Covey. “That starts with installing Dan Lambe as president and CEO. Dan has long been the face of the Arbor Day Foundation and there isn’t any doubt he will be an exceptional CEO who will be welcomed by our members and partners.”

With Harris as CEO, the Arbor Day Foundation nearly tripled in size and now manages tree planting projects in more than 50 countries. Last year alone, the Foundation was responsible for planting more than 38 million trees around the world. 

Its global headquarters in downtown Lincoln now has more than 150 employees with an additional 250 employees based at its Arbor Day Farm and Lied Lodge properties in Nebraska City.

After stepping down from his role in January, Harris will continue to support the Foundation and plans to focus on growing private equity ventures as both an advisor and investor.

Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than 1 million members, supporters and valued partners. 

Since 1972, more than 400 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted in neighborhoods, communities, cities and forests throughout the world. 

The Foundation’s vision is to lead toward a world where trees are used to solve issues critical to survival.

As one of the world's largest operating conservation organizations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. 

More information is available at arborday.org.

Dan Lambe
Matt Harris