Sonoran Institute Founder & CEO Stepping Down After 22 Years

April 24, 2012

Luther Propst, who founded the Sonoran Institute in 1991, has announced he will step down as its chief executive once a new CEO is hired.

Luther Propst

Propst championed the Institute’s move Downtown last summer.

“For 22 years, the Sonoran Institute has been a consuming part of my life and I love this work immensely,” Propst said. “After much thought, I feel the time is right to move on, climb new mountains and take on new challenges. It has been a high honor and sheer joy to work with my friends and colleagues at the Sonoran Institute – staff, board, and partners – and I leave my role as CEO excited about the future.”

Henri Bisson of Tucson, Arizona will serve as acting chief operating officer to assist in managing operations during the transition. Bisson recently retired as deputy director for operations at the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C.  Bisson, an Institute board member, took on his new duties immediately.

“We are excited for Luther, and we are excited for the future of the Institute,” Bisson said. “While we acknowledge that this change will be challenging for the organization, the depth of experience and leadership that we can draw from within the staff and from the Board will set the course for success for the Institute as the West’s leading conservation organization.”

Bill Mitchell, chairman of the Sonoran Institute Board of Directors, said the the Board of Directors has established a special search committee and retained the services of an executive search firm to find a new executive director.

“Luther put his heart and soul into building a unique and highly effective conservation organization that has earned the respect of community and government leaders nationwide,” Mitchell said. “We are deeply grateful to him for his extraordinary commitment to the Institute, for putting the idea of collaborative conservation into practice from Mexico to Montana, and for his leadership in helping to protect the many special places in the West.”

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