The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently celebrated its outgoing Executive Director Eric Carey and his legacy at their “Eric’s Final Farewell Event” at Baha Mar.
In April 2022, the environmental nonprofit announced this would be their last year with Carey at the helm of leadership, after his 20 years of service with the organization – with 15 as Executive Director.
Carey has long been a leading voice for conservation and environmental protection in The Bahamas, even before his time at the BNT. His legacy since joining the organization includes: helping to create a world-class national park system in The Bahamas; taking the BNT from a small organization of about 10 staff to an environmental powerhouse of over 80 employees; helping to raise the next generation of environmental leaders; advocating for the protection of important species such as sharks, the Nassau Grouper, the Queen Conch, and turtles; and raising over $60 million for the organization during his tenure.
“Eric’s Final Farewell Event” was a salute to Carey and all the work he’s done for the BNT and the country. Carey’s friends and family as well as government officials, supporters, and donors of the BNT showed up for a night of celebration, entertainment, and excitement.
Deputy Prime Minister the Honorable Chester Cooper recognized the important work of the BNT and honored and thanked Carey on behalf of the government.
“I’ve known Eric for many years and I’ve found his passion for protecting the environment to be magnificent,” he said. “To me, he has been practical in his approach. He’s always appreciated the need for balance with regard to the impact of investments on the environment weighed against the need for economic growth. He has focused on sustainable development that has been the benchmark for many countries around the world, and I’ve never seen him stand in the way of progress just for the sake of doing so.
“If I could sum it up in just a few words, I would say to [Eric] that [he] has done well. So on behalf of our beloved country, we thank you. We thank you for your performance with purpose; we thank you for expanding protected areas from 10 to 32 total, and from one million acres by more than one hundred per cent to 2.2 million acres; we thank you for fostering legislative protection for sharks, turtles, and grouper, and for making The Bahamas National Trust a credible partner for research; and we thank you for raising over $60 million for The Bahamas National Trust for parks, science, and education programs.”
BNT President Geoff Andrews also thanked Eric for his service while recognizing incoming Executive Director Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle.
“We went through a very rigorous process to find the next Executive Director,” Andrews said. “We sought Bahamians all over the world who might be interested in this position, and we were so happy that in the end we had someone right there within the organization who was well-qualified to take over the position. We look forward to continuing to work with Lakeshia and supporting her.
“As for Eric, he’s really taken the organization to a whole new level. During his tenure, he has worked in the development of many talented and professional young Bahamians. If you look around The Bahamas and see the people who are working in the environmental sphere, so many of them have come through the BNT. He’s also been a key part in developing environmental awareness in The Bahamas. But the most important thing, I think, that is a part of Eric’s legacy, is that he’s built a significant awareness of the BNT. Now, The Bahamas National Trust is a national voice piece for the environment. So we thank Eric for the work he’s done, and we know he will continue to argue not just for The Bahamas National Trust but for the environment and for the country.”
Incoming Executive Director Lakeshia Anderson-Rolle said: “Eric, your BNT Family salutes you for your determination and hard work. We pledge that we will continue to strive to build on your vision to create one of the finest protected area systems in the region, and in the world. We wish you great health, happiness, and success in your new ventures, and we know you will approach your new challenges with the same determination that you gave to the BNT for the past 20 years.”
Carey described his time at the BNT as “transformative,” and said he is glad to have been able to “effect some positive change nationally” through his work at the organization.
“As I prepare to hand the reins over to a new and improved Executive Director, I am pleased to be able to follow the advice of Fred Perpall. He said, ‘Eric, apply the 4 x 1 principle, not the 4 x 4 principle.’ In the 4 x 4, the baton is passed when the runner is fully spent – the runner passing off the baton often even falls to the track – done, dead. In the 4 x 1, however, the baton is passed when both runners are at top speed. The person handing off is able to ensure the pass is secure, run behind for a while, and cheer the successor on. I believe we’re using the 4 x 1 approach as I hand the baton of leadership to Lakeshia’s very capable hands.
He added: “I have full public confidence and zero regrets about any of the work I’ve supported or led here. There are very few things I would’ve done differently. One thing I am most proud of in these 15 years as Executive Director is that the BNT is now part of our national identity. Bahamians now identify the national park system as belonging to them – a treasure to hold and protect for generations to come. What is my absolute and greatest source of pride, however, is the number of young Bahamians who have passed through my hands. I have had the opportunity to mentor these young people, and today they’re making incredible contributions.
“I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to lead this great organization. It’s been an important part of my life’s work, and I pledge to do whatever I can to help ensure the continued growth and prosperity of this incredibly important national organization from wherever I end up in the coming years.”
In honor of Eric and his years of service with the BNT, the organization launched an ambitious $2 million “Legacy Campaign” when his departure was first announced. The goal of this campaign was to raise funds for the continued critical work and success of the BNT beyond Carey’s departure. “Eric’s Final Farewell Event” also served as a closing call of sorts for this campaign. Thanks to the support of major partners, donors, and sponsors, the organization met their goal. This will help the BNT to continue advancing work to protect species and spaces, advance environmental legislation, and build a better, more sustainable future for all – in keeping with the legacy of Eric Carey.
The BNT thanks the sponsors and partners of “Eric’s Final Farewell Event”: Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Baha Mar Resort Foundation, Sands Beer, Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits, Coca Cola, Bahamas First, The Nature Conservancy, BRON, Graycliff, the Guy Harvey Foundation, the Perry Institute for Marine Science, Summit Insurance, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Expressions Entertainment, and Wildflowers.
To learn more about the role the BNT plays to manage terrestrial and marine national parks, protect species that inhabit them, and inform environmental policy, please visit its website: www.bnt.bs and follow/subscribe to various social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Media Contact: Leah Carr | firstname.lastname@example.org | (242) 429-7902
About the BNT:
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of The Bahamas. Possibly the only non-governmental organization in the world charged with such a responsibility, the BNT works daily to conserve and protect the natural resources of The Bahamas through stewardship and education for present and future generations. There are currently 32 National Parks managed by the BNT with more than 2 million acres of marine and terrestrial areas protected.