There are a lot of unsung heroes in this state but at MEIC, Adam McLane tops that list. Adam started working for MEIC in 1985. As MEIC’s former Executive Director Jim Jensen frequently said, hiring Adam was the “first and smartest thing” he ever did. Anyone who worked with Adam agreed. After 37 years of serving as MEIC’s business manager, bookkeeper, editor extraordinaire, compliance officer, strategic planner, historian, sounding board, and friend – all while working only half-time – Adam retired in late August and passed away on Sept. 8, 2022. On August 22, MEIC presented Adam with its highest honor, Conservationist of the Year, a lifetime achievement award. No recipient was more deserving.
For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of working with Adam, let me introduce you to MEIC’s foundation. When Adam started working at MEIC, he, Jim, and George Ochenski were operating on a shoestring. The organization narrowly escaped closing its doors for lack of resources. But Adam’s sound business mind helped set MEIC on a path to being the strong and effective organization that it is today. He answered phones faster than anyone, so many of our members often referred to him as that “nice gentleman who answers the phone.” He helped innumerable organizations across the state obtain their federal nonprofit status or rely on MEIC’s. Adam helped other organizations understand the IRS and state compliance requirements. He wasn’t just committed to MEIC succeeding. He was committed to effective environmental advocacy across the state.
Adam was instrumental in creating and shaping the MEIC that exists today. He has trained hundreds of board members on how to be an effective member of a nonprofit and trained scores of staff on how to comply with state and federal requirements and limitations while continuing to be effective advocates. He made sure MEIC planned for the future both in terms of finances and program work (even when that planning drove Jim crazy). As a CPA from Stanford University, Adam not only kept our books in order, he kept us out of trouble with the IRS and commissioner of political practices. MEIC’s publications (and my articles) benefited greatly from his amazing editing skills, and new staff members found great comfort and encouragement in his experience and wisdom. Not to mention the delight of opening an email with a joke of the day or an interesting article that Adam thought you might like.
There’s so much more to say about how much Adam did for MEIC in four hours a day. Most importantly though, Adam did all of this in a quiet and systematic way. There was not a rash bone in his body but his absolutely dogged determination to protect the world in which we live made him indispensable to the conservation community. His cautious, thoughtful, systematic, clear thinking was a perfect balance to the program staff who just wanted to rush head first into battles.
To Adam, and his immeasurable contribution to the conservation movement in Montana, we urge you all to raise a glass of fine red wine in his honor. No one is more deserving.
This article was published in the September 2022 issue of Down To Earth.