Scenic Rivers Land Trust Announces New Executive Director

Sarah Knebel Promoted to Lead Growing Nonprofit

Annapolis, Md. (August 21, 2019) – Scenic Rivers Land Trust’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce the promotion of Sarah Knebel as the organization’s new executive director, effective September 3. Knebel succeeds RickLeader, who served as executive director for the past nine years and announced plans in June to step down to pursue consulting opportunities. Leader hired Knebel in 2015 as Scenic Rivers’ Easement and Outreach Coordinator with an eye toward mentoring her as his successor.

When determining next steps for the organization, Scenic Rivers’ Board of Directors readily agreed with Leader’s instincts, recognizing Knebel’s talent as a leader, her environmental expertise and her dedication to Scenic Rivers’ mission as the best fit for the organization.

“We are very pleased that Sarah has agreed to step into the role of Scenic Rivers’ next executive director,” said Nina Fisher, Board President. “With more than four years managing increasingly complex projects and challenges dealing with land conservation, Sarah has the full confidence and support of the board to lead Scenic Rivers as we move into this new and exciting phase.”

Knebel’s promotion comes at an important time for the nonprofit, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, in addition to recently reaching the 3,000+ acres milestone, having conserved more than 300 acres in the last year. Earlier this month, Scenic Rivers announced that it has earned national accreditation from The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, making Scenic Rivers one of only five accredited local land trusts in Maryland.

Knebel has been integral to this recent growth and success, taking over stewardship of all easements, leading Scenic Rivers through the national accreditation process, and being instrumental in finding and managing projects suitable for the nascent Chesapeake Bay Trust Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection Grant Program.

“I’m looking forward to strengthening Scenic Rivers’ position as a leader of land conservation in the county,” said Knebel. “I couldn’t be more excited to take the helm after all the good work Rick has done for this organization.”

Knebel will work with the sixteen-member board of directors, two part-time staff, and a team of volunteers to oversee Scenic Rivers’ conservation and stewardship programs, including its growing portfolio of more than 65 conservation easements.

In addition to her work at Scenic Rivers, Knebel is the former co-founder and environmental lead for Oxen, Inc., which created a sustainable local farm-to-door online delivery service. She has a BS in Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Environmental Restoration and Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.

“Sarah grew up in Severna Park and is incredibly passionate about conserving the county’s remaining forests and natural spaces,” said Leader. “Her in-depth knowledge of the organization, her understanding of the natural resources landscape in the county, and her expertise in the best practices in land conservation make her a perfect choice for taking on this role.”

About Scenic Rivers Land Trust

A nationally accredited land trust, Scenic Rivers is a private nonprofit dedicated to protecting forests, wetlands, farmlands and other open spaces in Anne Arundel County. Since 1988, Scenic Rivers has used land conservation easements to protect special places from development and to facilitate tax incentives for property owners. To date, Scenic Rivers holds 68 conservation easements across the county, totaling more than 3,000 acres—over one percent of county land. To learn about Scenic Rivers’ conservation programs, visit

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