MALT hires new leader

04/07/2021

The Marin Agricultural Land Trust has selected Thane Kreiner, an entrepreneur and executive from Sebastopol, as its new C.E.O. His hiring marks a new chapter for MALT, as its mission is increasingly focused on sustainability, innovation and stewardship.

“I’m really excited about working with the community to experiment, adopt and model best practices and transform our food systems from being a net source of greenhouse gas emissions to carbon negative, and doing so in a way that’s inclusive and respectful of BIPOC communities,” he said in an interview with the Light.

Mr. Kreiner has a long resume. He was educated as a neuroscientist, but then he witnessed his friends dying during the AIDS pandemic and wanted to do more to get the best science and technology into people’s hands. He started several life science companies and served on the boards of several more. For the past decade, he worked in Santa Clara as the head of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, an organization that helps nonprofits and businesses around the world to increase their impact, with the goal of ending poverty. He said he has worked with 1,000 enterprises in 100 countries, raising $500 million.

Mr. Kreiner first heard about MALT from longtime friend Corey Goodman, a fellow scientist and entrepreneur who was on Mr. Kreiner’s doctoral thesis advisory committee. Mr. Goodman owns a sheep ranch in Marshall whose property has a MALT conservation easement, and his wife Marcia Barinaga gave Mr. Kreiner and his husband her first wheel of cheese in 2009. Mr. Kreiner is a fan of the branded products that MALT’s partners create. When the job opportunity arose, he was attracted to the organization’s mission to nourish the local community and its growth mindset, as well as the shorter commute.

Mr. Kreiner isn’t a farmer, but he said he practices permaculture on his three-acre property, where he sees how a simple move like adding a hedgerow can promote biodiversity. He said his first 100 days will be learning from ranchers how MALT can best support them. He would like to explore how to ensure dignified housing and work for Latino farmworkers, which includes empowering them to become farmers themselves. And he is also interested in doing more to conserve waterways across properties. He already sat down with six current and former MALT board members to discuss the organization’s future plans. Everyone seemed pleased with his arrival.

Ray Fort, who served as the acting director, will return to his position as the director of operations.

The past year has been rocky for MALT. Marin County Parks asked the land trust to return a $833,250 grant because its funding request had not disclosed a property appraisal, and executive director Jamison Watts and director of conservation Jeff Stump resigned. A number of policies have since been updated to increase transparency. Bylaws now prohibit MALT from purchasing easements from board members and their immediate families. The county will no longer appoint two members to MALT’s board, and a supervisor isn’t invited to serve on the board. MALT will also hold an annual community meeting to share information and answer questions.