News Release – 5.05.14


“We have accepted with regret Maria’s resignation as CEO,” says Bill Mitchell, chairman of the Sonoran Institute Board of Directors. “We all deeply appreciate the strong leadership, enthusiasm, and conservation experience she brings to the organization. We are very pleased that she will be able to continue her involvement as a board member.”

Mitchell indicated that the Board of Directors has established a special search committee and retained the services of an executive search firm to find a new chief executive officer. “The board is committed to moving the search process along speedily and to finding the right person to lead the Institute into the future.”

The Institute also announced that John Shepard and Wendi Lucas, both senior employees of the Institute, will jointly provide executive leadership in an interim capacity, while the board conducts a formal search for a new CEO. Shepard is a 17-year veteran with the Institute and currently serves as its senior adviser. Lucas joined the Institute in 2013 as its chief development officer.

Baier is the former Arizona State Land Commissioner. She became CEO of the Institute in 2012, succeeding Luther Propst, who founded the Sonoran Institute in 1990.

The Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. Founded in 1990, the Institute is a nonprofit organization that is working to shape the future of the West. For more information, visit