It matters who is in charge. Just yesterday I was giving a history of the creation of the Cape and Islands Water Protection Fund to a reporter and cited the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce as the earliest, most reliable, and most effective ally the environmental community had in support of this transformative legislation. And while the Chamber board of director’s support was critical (full disclosure here that I serve on the Chamber’s board) the driver was retiring Chamber CEO Wendy Northcross. Wendy is the all too rare type who can see common ground where others see, or seek, conflict. Wendy gave real meaning to the Chamber catch phrase that on the Cape the environment is the economy, and the economy is the environment.

When I talk to people about our experience working on the Water Protection Fund legislation, most express surprise at the alliance between the environmental community and the Chamber. And I will admit it is unusual and that we don’t agree on everything, but we agree on a lot more that you would think. The reason we even know that we agree is that Wendy has always been open to discussion and broad minded about what is in the long-term best interest of the region. With a perspective that is open to collaboration, Wendy has fostered conversations that have led to common ground where chambers and environmentalists elsewhere have found none.

Proving yet again that the Cape Cod Chamber stands in the right place, Wendy delivered a strong response to the recent threat issued by the Joint Base Cape Cod director to bully the Chamber into supporting their ill-conceived proposal for a machine gun range on top of the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve. In addition to appropriately standing up for her members, Wendy took the next step and made the case for the importance of both the environment and the legitimacy of public decision-making processes. She proved again that leadership matters.

As a Chamber board member, I’ll soon be saying goodbye and thank you to Wendy for decades of exemplary service. But, as executive director of APCC I will be comforted by Wendy’s continued service to the environment as APCC’s newest board member. While generally not in the habit of singling out one of my bosses for praise, I am personally and professionally pleased to be able to continue working with Wendy in her new role as she brings a lot to an already exemplary APCC board. It matters who is in charge.