Fisheries and Wildlife Board members are responsible for supervising and controlling the agency, and have the authority to make regulations, set policy, and oversee personnel appointments. By statute, the Board is composed of 7 members; it meets monthly and holds public hearings as part of the regulatory process.
Bob Durand of Marlborough represents the Northeast Wildlife District. He is a former Secretary of Environmental Affairs, where he oversaw five agencies, including the Department of Fish and Game.
As Secretary, Bob protected 150,000 acres of open space, created two bioreserves, and led the Community Preservation Initiative and the Biodiversity Initiative, which challenged all cities and towns to identify 200 plant, insect, and wildlife species within their borders. He was also instrumental in integrating environmental education into the K-12 curriculum.
Bob is currently President of Durand and Anastas Environmental Strategies, Inc., an environmental permitting and government relations company in Boston and Marlborough. Bob served three terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and four terms in the Massachusetts State Senate, where he was majority whip and chaired both the Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture and the Energy Committee. Bob's legislative accomplishments included the Rivers Act, the Community Preservation Act, the Brownfields Act, and an Environmental Bond Bill. He also worked with the sporting community on the Conservation Land Stamp, hunter harassment legislation, and the presumption of openness on state lands.
Bob Durand holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and sociology from Boston College and a certificate from the New England Senior Executives Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from both the University of Massachusetts/Boston and Nichols College.
He has served on the boards of the Land Trust Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, and Sterling College, and is currently a board member of the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation and the chair of the Massachusetts Environmental Trust. Bob has received numerous awards for his environmental work, from Mass Audubon, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council, The Trustees, the Gun Owners Action League, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and others. He is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist who enjoys hiking, hunting, fly-fishing, kayaking, gardening, and beekeeping with his wife Nancy their six children and two grandchildren.
Sasha Dyer brings a professional career in aquaculture as well as a lifelong passion for hunting and fishing to her role as the Central Wildlife District representative. Ms. Dyer is the Fish Health Manager at Great Falls Aquaculture, an indoor recirculating aquaculture facility in Turners Falls, where she has worked since 1995. There, she oversees the maintenance of fish health through routine diagnostic technique, in addition to performing fish examinations and water quality testing and managing employee training in fish health, fish behavior, and biosecurity.
Ms. Dyer harvested her first deer and her first turkey at age 11 and has been an avid outdoorswoman and conservationist from an early age. Her interest in fish and wildlife led her to Unity College in Maine, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science, with a specialization in aquaculture.
Ms. Dyer has a passion for bringing new people into the outdoors, and is a very active volunteer, including recently with Ducks Unlimited; as secretary of the Petersham Gun Club and an archery instructor for the club’s “Girls-Guns-Grilling” day, held in coordination with the Massachusetts Chapter of The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF); as a swim coach for the Athol Area YMCA swim team since 1995; as the NWTF Women in the Outdoors (WITO) Coordinator; as a member and instructor for Mass. Women of the Outdoors (WOTO); and as an evening program instructor for the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp, where she teaches fish anatomy. Ms. Dyer lives in Barre with her husband, three children, numerous beagles, and a bird dog.
Representing the Connecticut Valley Wildlife District and farming interests on the Board, Emma Ellsworth is currently the Executive Director of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, a regional land trust with a 23-town service area in central and northern Massachusetts, based in Athol, having first served for a year as Mount Grace’s Deputy Director. Ms. Ellsworth’s work at Mount Grace encompasses land acquisition, habitat conservation, land stewardship, landowner outreach, fundraising, and support for nature-based recreation and of local and regional agriculture, as well as operations and board member relations. Previously, she worked for over 20 years as a labor negotiator and organizer, including as the international vice president and director of organizing for the New England Joint Board of Unite Here of Boston.
Ms. Ellsworth earned two master’s degrees from Yale University: the first a Master of Arts in the history of African art, and then a Master of Philosophy in the history of art. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College with a wide-ranging course load that included biology, botany, ecology, and art history.
With lifelong interests in conservation and the outdoors that are equally broad, Ms. Ellsworth brings personal and family history with outdoor recreation, conservation, and wildlife appreciation to her role as a Board member. With passionate, influential outdoorspeople in her family, she has loved to hike, camp, and race canoes since she was a child. Describing herself as an avid adult-onset hunter, Ms. Ellsworth lives with her husband and hunting dogs in Orange.
Ernest W. Foster IV
Representing the Southeast Wildlife District, Mr. Foster is a graduate of Marquette University with a Bachelor of Science in business administration. Starting his career as a commercial printer, he is now an established owner and marketing and branding executive with businesses located on the South Shore. His work in the printing and paper industries taught Mr. Foster to value the scientific and technical aspects of forest/habitat management. Tours of paper mills and timbering sites provided a hands-on education and also made Mr. Foster an advocate for the preservation of open space.
Mr. Foster's love for the out-of-doors was established early in life, with hunting, fishing, and shooting all strong elements of his family tradition. Mr. Foster is an active, life member of the Scituate Rod and Gun, the Old Colony Sportsmen's Association, the National Skeet Shooting Association, and the National Sporting Clays Association (NSSA-NSCA). He is a current member (and past chairman) of the Ducks Unlimited Minot's Ledge Chapter and a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society, Pheasants Forever, and The Trustees.
Mr. Foster lives with his wife, four children, and three dogs in the Scituate home he has owned for over thirty years. In his rare leisure time, he enjoys casting a fly, training his bird dog, and shooting his bow.
John F. Organ, CWB®
John Organ is the at-large Board member who is a Certified Wildlife Biologist®, bringing to the Board’s deliberations over 40 years of professional experience with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where he was chief of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program (WSFR), and the U.S. Geological Survey as chief of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units for the nation. He has extensive experience in research, management, and policy for endangered, nongame, and game species.
Dr. Organ received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. in wildlife biology and forestry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he currently serves as Adjunct Associate Professor. He also has faculty appointments at Michigan State University (Adjunct Associate Professor), Virginia Tech University (Adjunct Professor), and Universidad Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile (Permanent Invited Professor), and over 100 professional scientific publications (including in review).
With conservation policy experience including 10 years of service on the Joint State Federal Task Force on Federal Assistance Policy (Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson funding to states) and the Peru Forest Sector Initiative, where he assisted the Peru Forest and Wildlife Service in implementing a new forest and wildlife law, Dr. Organ brings a deep understanding of the complex issues facing wildlife, fisheries, and habitat managers to his role on the Board.
Dr. Organ’s volunteerism for conservation includes service as president of The Wildlife Society, the scientific organization for wildlife professionals, and the Buckland Conservation Commission, where he served as chairman from 1994 to 2014. His lifelong commitment to conservation has been acknowledged by The Wildlife Society, which awarded him its highest honor, the Aldo Leopold Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in wildlife conservation (2020); by the Wildlife Management Institute in awarding him its highest honor, the George Bird Grinnell Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in conservation (2014); by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which awarded him the Meritorious Service Award (2018); and by the New England Outdoor Writers Association with its Sportsman of the Year Award (2008). He lives in Buckland.
Stephen A. Sears
Representing the Western Wildlife District and serving as the Board's current Chair, Mr. Sears holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently developing a former Crane and Co., Inc., factory building in Dalton, creating a marketplace for local artisan products and sustainable businesses. Mr. Sears has worked for over 25 years in technical and leadership positions, primarily within the highly specialized paper industry. He was with Crane and Co., Inc., for over 25 years, most recently as Vice President in charge of manufacturing, engineering, and environmental services. In his tenure at Crane, he oversaw all the energy procurement and environmental policies, and was instrumental in applying many leading edge process developments in U.S. currency production as well as spearheading many environmental efforts.
Active in both statewide and local community efforts, Mr. Sears serves on the board of the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, and is the Vice-Chair of the Berkshire Brownfields Commission. Other board positions include the Center for EcoTechnology and the Mount Greylock Ski Club. Past board service includes the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area and The Trustees’ Notchview Advisory Committee. He served as a long-term member of the Dalton Development and Industrial Commission, where he led the development and implementation of multiple new bylaws for the Town of Dalton. He is also an active member of the community effort “Grow Dalton,” a group working to improve the local community.
Mr. Sears has many interests, including hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation of all types; music; fine woodworking; nature photography; gardening; and cooking. He lives in Dalton with his wife, Maria Cruz, and has three children.
Matthew R. Sisk
Matthew Sisk joins the Board as an at-large member interested in the protection and management of wild birds and mammals and endangered species and serves as the Board's liaison to MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee, where he is a full voting member. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Civil Process and Community Corrections at the Norfolk County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to working at the Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Sisk was Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, overseeing 450,000 acres of parks, forests, parkways, watersheds, beaches, and pools.
Mr. Sisk has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Assumption College in Worcester, where he majored in the Classics, and he has a history of service as a federal and a state government employee. He has worked for the U.S. Small Business Administration in the Regional Administrator’s Office, assigned to the Massachusetts District Office as an Economic Development Specialist. Mr. Sisk has also served as Senior Advisor at the U.S. General Services Administration and as Director of Board and Commission Appointments for the Massachusetts Governor’s Office.
An avid sportsman and conservationist, Mr. Sisk belongs to Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society, the American Woodcock Society, and The Trustees; has served as president of the English Pointer Club of New England; and is a Life Member of the Braintree Rifle and Pistol Club. A lifelong Braintree native, he resides there with his wife, Meghan.