Thorne to lead Watershed Council

Matthew Thorne

Matthew Thorne has joined the Merrimack River Watershed Council as its new executive director.

Thorne, a resident of Concord, New Hampshire, brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management, environmental stewardship and environmental advocacy – the right fit for the present and future direction of the council, said President Dan Graovac.

“Now is the perfect time to bring in such a qualified executive director. The river continues to flow and face challenges, even during these unusual times and we believe Matt is the right person to lead us,” Graovac said in a press release.

The council is a grassroots, local nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and vitality of the Merrimack River, a river that provides drinking water to 600,000 people and is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 Most Endangered Rivers by the U.S. Forest Service.

In recent months, the council has successfully led a regional effort to address one of the Merrimack’s primary sources of pollution — combined sewage overflows, or CSOs — and drawn public attention to threats posed by emerging contaminants such as PFAS and microplastics.

Thorne has served as associate director of the Manchester, New Hampshire-based Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success since 2018.

Prior to that, his career path found him working in environmental causes throughout Washington state’s Puget Sound region — as operations manager and ecologist for EarthCorps in Seattle, Washington, sustainable stormwater coordinator for the University of Washington, field specialist for Restoration Logistics, stream restoration specialist for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement, and environmental steward for North Sound Baykeeper.

Thorne has also worked in Alaska as an environmental educator and field guide for Alaska Island Community Services.

Thorne earned a master’s degree in environmental horticulture from the University of Washington, School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in Seattle, and a bachelor of arts in international development from American University, School of International Service.

“I am proud to step into this role and work side by side with our dedicated staff and board as we are lifted up by the growing swell of MRWC members and volunteers,” Thorne said in the press release.

“Together, we will champion the vision of the council, grow and steward its financial vitality, and develop robust programs that collaboratively address the needs of the diverse communities and ecosystems of the watershed,” he added. “The Merrimack is my home and as executive director, I will do everything in my power to launch MRWC into a chapter of constructive collaboration and abundance.”

The council, founded in 1976, is a member-supported organization that monitors pollution, conducts water testing, collects and disseminates data, advocates for policies that protect the river, hosts river cleanups, offers educational programs, and sponsors river recreation such as kayaking trips and hikes.

For more information on the council, visit

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