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Fontenelle Forest Announces New Executive Director; Looks Forward to Strengthening Roots in Community

Fontenelle Forest is excited to announce that Matt Darling has been named its new Executive Director.

Darling brings extensive nonprofit, leadership, donor services, and business experience to the executive director role, as well as a true passion for the natural world and the mission of Fontenelle Forest.

A black and white picture of Matt Darling

As a long-time Fontenelle Forest member, volunteer, and Master Naturalist, Darling has deep knowledge of and personal dedication to the organization’s core values of conservation, education, research and recreation.

“Throughout my life, the natural world has been a beacon of wonder, hope and guidance that I strive to complement and support through my choices and actions,” Darling said. “I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to fulfill my personal passion while also helping to fulfill the mission of Fontenelle Forest, which has long been a place of refuge, exploration and discovery for my family.”

During his eighteen-year career, Darling has served in various leadership positions in both the non-profit and for-profit industries. He joins Fontenelle Forest following an eight-year career with the Omaha Community Foundation (OCF), where he held multiple leadership roles related to nonprofit management and donor services, most recently serving for two years as Executive Vice President.

The board of directors, leadership team and staff are thrilled to welcome Darling into the role of Executive Director and are eager to embark on a new chapter in Fontenelle Forest’s extensive history. In 2020, Fontenelle Forest celebrated the 100-year anniversary of its first land purchase. This year, Fontenelle Forest begins the journey of its next 100 years with new leadership at the helm and many new opportunities ahead.

The board and staff look forward to working with Darling to strengthen Fontenelle Forest’s roots in the local community and achieve the vision of being both a national leader in environmental stewardship and education and the region’s premier nature center.

“The board knows Matt is the right person at the right time for this role. We are confident he will lead positive change for the organization by helping us focus on our mission and establishing strategies necessary to achieve it,” said Nicole Konen, President of Fontenelle Forest’s Board of Directors. “Matt’s exemplary leadership skills and highly-respected standing within our community speaks for itself. We are extremely lucky to have Matt joining our team.”

Darling will begin in his official capacity as Executive Director of Fontenelle Forest on April 19. Until that date, Shannon Mullen O’Keefe will remain in her current role as Interim Executive Director.

Board and Staff Thankful for Interim Executive Director’s Leadership and Dedication during Transition

A black and white picture of Shannon Mullen O'KeefeAdditionally, the board of directors, leadership team and staff would like to thank Interim Executive Director, Shannon Mullen O’Keefe, for the exceptional leadership she provided during a critical time of transition for Fontenelle Forest, following the resignation of the previous executive director in December 2020.

Mullen O’Keefe, Fontenelle Forest’s 2021 Board President-Elect at the time, resigned from the board and stepped into the role of Interim Executive Director. Her deep passion for Fontenelle Forest, extensive experience on the board, and decades of practice in workplace management and leading teams made her an ideal candidate to step into the interim role.

During her three months as interim executive director, Mullen O’Keefe worked diligently to make the transition as smooth as possible for all staff, donors, members, and visitors of Fontenelle Forest, while simultaneously moving the organization forward.

Her hard work, dedication, and loyalty provided much-needed stability, support and leadership during an uncertain time, for which the board and staff are forever grateful.

Fontenelle Forest appreciates the support of our members, guests, volunteers, donors, corporate sponsors, and community partners during this time of transition. We are very excited about this change in leadership and all of the new opportunities it presents. We hope you feel the same.

For questions, please call 402-731-3140.

Thank you for supporting Fontenelle Forest.


Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

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