John Bird, a nationally recognized educator and organizational consultant with strong Maine coastal ties, has agreed to serve as chair of the board of trustees of the Island Institute. Bird succeeds Horace A. “Hoddy” Hildreth, Jr., chairman of the board of Diversified Communications, whose 16-year term as board chair included such landmarks as the launch of the Working Waterfront newspaper and its growth to a readership of 40,000, a successful campaign to secure $1.2 million in state bond funds to preserve Maine’s working waterfronts, the placement of more than 50 Island Fellows to work on community projects in 19 island and coastal communities, and the near-completion of a five-year, $20 million capital campaign goal.

Institute president Philip Conkling expressed deep appreciation, saying, “We owe a huge debt to Hoddy for his steady hand at the tiller during some of our most exciting — and challenging — times as an organization. The successes we’ve had on behalf of island communities are, in many ways, his legacy.”

Bird, a Bowdoin College alumnus, has been a member of the Island Institute board for 14 years and was most recently vice-chair. He also served as chair of the organization’s programs committee. Before retiring this summer, he spent 30 years as an independent school educator and leader, followed by 17 years as a consultant to independent schools and other nonprofit institutions in 40 states and several international locales. Bird’s work has ranged from searches for school leaders to board development, conflict resolution, organizational assessment and strategic planning. He was the driving force behind the Institute’s new three-year strategic plan, ratified by the board of trustees in December 2006, and is eager to play an even greater leadership role.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Island Institute’s vibrant development the past 14 years under Philip Conkling’s visionary leadership and am honored that the trustees have asked me to succeed Hoddy as chair of the Board,” Bird said. He is scheduled to chair his first board meeting later this month.