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Grégoire Rousseau takes on president’s role at Taking Root

Taking Root’s new president is a man with a mission.

“I believe in our work and I want to see more of it,” says Jean-Benoît (J.B.) Grégoire Rousseau, who switched chairs from director-at-large to Taking Root’s board president earlier this summer.

Grégoire Rousseau describes the switch as “more continuation than change” because board leadership at Taking Root is shared, and not concentrated in one position.

He has been involved with Taking Root since he “fell in love with the people and the work they were doing” while volunteering on a committee four years ago. (During the day he is an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company, a global management-consulting firm.)

He says his priorities as president are the same as they were when he was a director. “I want us to scale up – but without losing any of the ‘magic,’ “ he said. “And I want to see us extend our impact by sharing our expertise and our technology with other groups involved in non-profit tropical reforestation.”

When he looks at Taking Root programs in Nicaragua he sees a “triple impact:” every project restores local ecosystems, restores economic autonomy in local communities and restores the global atmosphere by pulling carbon from the air.

“There is no compromise,” he said. Taking Root is raising the bar globally by showing the world you can do all three and you can do it all the time.

“That’s why I want to see more of it – it may sound a bit like a cliché but when these programs work well they really do help the world become a better place.”

He said the board and senior staff are looking at several options for extending the impact of the Taking Root model. “We can take a look at getting active in other parts of Nicaragua or elsewhere in the world,” he said. “Another option is to innovate and find ways to extend the life of our projects.

“We can also look for ways to teach other non-profit groups how to be successful with our model,” he said. “That success is a direct result of our management approach and our values and our technology and our forestry science. If someone else has the right values and the right sense of mission, we can teach them the rest, and that’s a very effective way of expanding our impact and our reach.”

Grégoire Rousseau said the board’s most important challenge over the next couple of years is figuring the most effective tactics for extending their impact, and then “making it happen.”

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