REGIONAL — After spending nearly two decades at the Tri-Valley Conservancy (TVC), including the last 10 as its executive director, Laura Mercier has announced she is leaving her position on June 30. She plans to seek new adventures closer to family and friends in Wisconsin.
Mercier, 60, submitted her resignation last week to the TVC's Board of Directors.
"It has been a fantastic ride with TVC," Mercier wrote in her letter. "I cannot believe that it will have been for almost 18 years! When I moved to Livermore, I had no idea of what an opportunity was to come my way. I am always grateful and feel blessed to be able to be a part of Tri-Valley Conservancy.”
Mercier's departure comes months after the TVC renewed its accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, and just after preserving another 425 acres of sensitive habitat land in the region, which protect lands for endangered species and connect wildlife corridors.
The nonprofit conservancy — which protects open space for parks, farms, trails, ranches and wildlife habitat in Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon and Sunol — has not selected a new director.
Born in Colorado, Mercier moved to Livermore with her family in 1978 and spent much of her life in the community. An engineer, she worked for 15 years for Boeing, including 10 on the C17 Airlift System in Long Beach. In 2002, after moving back to the city, she joined the TVC as stewardship director, focusing on land stewardship, and became executive in 2011.
During her time, TVC acquired 3,500 acres of conservation easements, she said. Mercier called her "proudest contribution" the Edward R. Campbell Pedestrian Bridge, which "provides our community with access to a 44-mile trail that takes you from Livermore to Mission Peak and connects over 25,000 acres of parkland." As executive director, Mercier served as project manager for the construction.
"This project really pushed me to apply all of the skills I gained throughout my career, including my previous profession as an engineer, and to collaborate with the community stakeholders who I have spent years fostering relationships with," she said.
Mercier said she has "special appreciation" for donors, volunteers, property owners and community leaders. She worked with more than 30 members on the board of directors.
"I truly appreciate each of them for their time and dedication to TVC," she said. "I do want to say special thanks to the chairs that I was given the opportunity to work with as the executive director: Jean King, Rik Hansen, Jeff Williams, Norm Petermeier, Ryan Callahan and David Kent."
Mercier said she will be sad to leave Charlene Anderson, TVC associate director, and Diana Roberts, the group’s land and media specialist.
"I have absolute faith in them and their skills," Mercier said. "Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with amazing people who had passion about TVC’s work. It humbles me to realize how much I learned from them."
Mercier will be leaving plenty of projects for her successor. She said multiple mitigation conservation easements are in the works. The TVC executive director also makes annual stewardship visits to all the properties under TVC conservation casements, where current programs serve the community.
"Those programs span from celebrating our bountiful agriculture and vineyards by hosting the Livermore Valley Uncorked Wine Competition to our Discovery: Youth-in-Nature program, which provides outdoor education and stewardship lessons to our local fourth-graders in the Tri-Valley," Mercier said. "TVC is also focusing on the economic sustainability of South Livermore Valley Area Plan (SLVAP). We are leading efforts and collaborating with community stakeholders to support vineyards and local agriculture to be viable and flourish in the Tri-Valley. Success of agriculture is a key component of fulfilling the SLVAP, which is a pillar of our organization's mission."
Mercier said she has wanted to move to Wisconsin for the past few years. She will be joined by her 78-year-old “mum,” Sybil Mercier.
"As much as I would like to ignore that I am getting older, I decided there is no better time to prioritize time with my loved ones and experience new adventures," Mercier said. "My plan is to rest, reenergize, and explore our new surroundings. Knowing my personality, I do believe at some point I will pursue volunteering and perhaps even a part-time position. I have many interests, and one of the best ways to get acquainted with my new city is to contribute within the community."
Mercier said Livermore will always be a special place for her.
"I will always be grateful and feel blessed to have been a part of TVC and, more importantly, the Tri-Valley community," she said. "In the end, it always comes down to the people. I could spend hours telling you about the amazing people in this community — our local activists, elected officials, public agencies, residents, donors, volunteers, property owners, staff and many more. I truly have been the lucky one."