On Monday, March 3, Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary (YWS) announced the resignation of Executive Director Michelle Marion. YWS has a new Executive Director. YWS announced on Tuesday, March 4, that Assistant Director Emily Bertino will become Executive Director. Bertino stated, “The primary point is that this is a single position change in the organization-an internal change. I’ve been here since early last May. I’ve been involved with this last year’s changes in growth and improvements. We are still on the right path.” A sign of such progress was the smooth and swift transition of leadership. Bertino had only praise for Marion. “I will be more hands on. That is thanks to the financial foundation Marion has left us. She created the marketing plan and the five year financial plan. It was completely instrumental in enabling us to create such a strong management team. That team enabled us to obtain really important grants last year.” During her two years with YWS, Bertino said Marion spearheaded numerous operational changes and improvements, playing a key role in the revitalization of the Sanctuary to help reach financial stability. She said, “The Board of Directors and staff of the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary appreciate her efforts, and thank her for her countless hours given to us and wish her the best in her new endeavors.” The management staff will remain. “They are fantastic! Last year,” explained Bertino, “we added our management structure: my former position; an Animal Care Manager; and Education Manager and an Education Assistant.” Bertino has a background in “animal based nonprofit fund raising.” She spent eight years with an American Sanctuary Association certified sanctuary-a certification that YWS is striving to obtain. She has a business management background and has fundraised for the Humane Society. The YWS former Assistant Director/Fund raiser position will no longer exist. Bertino will blend that position with her present executive duties and welcomes public contact. Two major grants were obtained last year. “In the fall, 2013, we obtained the State of Montana grant. We will be ground breaking as soon as the snow melts. The grant will enable us to improve our walkways, repair a corner that floods and build a new coyote habitat. We will also design and implement new educational signage in front of all habitats.” The second grant was from W.E. and O.P. Edwards Foundation. It will develop new ecosystem education programs. “The educational program experienced immediate success,” said Bertino. It has already been presented to most Carbon County schools and demand is so great educators are requested outside the county. Bertino said the class, “Wildlife Connection”, with its motto, “Engaging students for learning about our ecosystem” is wildly popular. “We are educating schools and the public about our Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and wildlife habitat. We are all very excited about that. We plan to grow even more in the county and in Montana.” Bertino concluded, “I love Red Lodge and I find this work the most important-to contribute to the Red Lodge Community; to build the greatest wildlife sanctuary and educational facility. That’s what the education department is all based upon.” YWS Contact: 426-8325.