MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Bedford resident Michele A. Miller has been appointed Westmoreland Sanctuary’s first executive director, the not-for-profit nature center announced Wednesday.
As the designee for this new position, effective Feb. 4, Miller’s chief role is working with Westmoreland's Board of Trustees to increase the public’s awareness and engagement, adding new programming and events and stepping up the organization's outside communication efforts, board officials said.
Miller will also work with the board and staff to oversee the renovation of Westmoreland’s Museum and Nature Center, a reconstructed 200-year-old building that was formerly a Presbyterian Church in Bedford Village.
For two years, a multiphase renovation plan has been under way at the sanctuary, which maintains 7.5 miles of hiking trails on 640 acres and hosts thousands of guests each year at 260 Chestnut Ridge Road in Mount Kisco.
New enclosures have recently been completed that provide the sanctuary’s animals with more natural habitations. Miller will oversee improvements that include a nature lab with a beehive display and discovery area, as well as expanded programming areas inside and outside.
Miller said she is excited to lead the center toward revitalization and growth. “My goal is to invigorate our outreach and programming to serve larger and more diverse populations from the immediate community and beyond,” she said.
Other tasks include developing a long-term plan for land conservation and a plan for acquisition and preservation of the center's additional land parcels.
In her career, Miller has held numerous development and administrative positions with other not-for-profits, including The Women’s Project Theatre in New York City, where she was responsible for all aspects of fundraising for a $6.5 million capital campaign, as well as at the Poetry Society of America and Selfhelp Community Services.
Miller moved to the Bedford area eight years ago after the birth of her oldest son and since then has served on the town's advisory boards and school boards. As part of West Patent Elementary School’s Learning Garden Committee, Miller has shared her knowledge of plants and gardening with students.
In her spare time, Miller, who received her doctorate in archaeology from Boston University and her master's and bachelor's in anthropology from Stanford University, writes a gardening/nature blog called Practically Grown, in which she offers observations and advice based on her experiences as a gardener, archaeologist, mother and writer.
“[Miller's] experience in not-for-profit administration and fundraising, her volunteer activities in the community, and her energy and enthusiasm for educating the public about nature made her our unanimous choice for this position,” board President Graham Anderson said.