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April 28 , 2010

Changing of the Guard at State's Leading Wilderness Advocacy Group

New Executive Director Matt Skroch to Start May 17

PHOENIX/TUCSON/PRESCOTT —The Board of Directors of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC) announces a change in leadership at the state’s leading wilderness advocacy organization: outgoing Executive Director Kevin Gaither-Banchoff will hand over the office and leadership to Matt Skroch, a familiar and effective voice in Arizona’s conservation circles, beginning on May 17th. The Coalition has offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Prescott.


Skroch worked for 10 years with AWC partner Sky Island Alliance, based in Tucson, as their programs director and executive director before returning to academia for a graduate degree in conservation planning at the University of Arizona in 2009. He knows the issue of wilderness inside and out, having helped launch the grassroots effort to protect the Tumacacori Highlands in 2002, while also lending support across the state for similar efforts to provide permanent protection to Arizona’s wild lands. Matt has a proven track record of increasing organizational capacity, charting strategies for success, and communicating the importance of wild land conservation to the public and media.


"It is with great anticipation that I approach the opportunity to work with and expand our membership of wilderness advocates," says Skroch.  "Having the pleasure and opportunity to volunteer for AWC over the last ten years as a board member, field volunteer, event host, and campaign partner, I’ve experienced the breadth and capacity of this organization. It is my full intention to help expand this breadth and capacity into the future. Across the Sonoran, Verde, Sky Island, Grand Canyon, and White Mountain regions, opportunity knocks."


Gaither-Banchoff leaves a four-year stint at the helm of the Coalition, leading the organization to success most notably in last year’s designation of Fossil Creek as a Wild & Scenic River, only the second such designation in the state. AWC wrote the proposal to designate Fossil Creek and worked tirelessly with diverse stakeholders in central Arizona for 6 years to see the proposal through Congress and to President Obama’s desk as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act.


"I have no doubt this organization will continue to prosper and grow, and I will remain committed to its success as a volunteer, donor, and more," says Gaither-Banchoff. "I’ve enjoyed a rich set of experiences here and believe I leave the Arizona Wilderness Coalition a dynamic and effective organization." 

Beginning May 17th, Matt can be reached at 520-326-4300, or at




Katurah Mackay, Deputy Director, 602-571-2603


-Arizona Wilderness Coalition mission statement