After 20 years working to restore and protect Puget Sound, environmental advocacy group People for Puget Sound (PPS) is closing up shop.
Tom Bancroft, the group’s executive director, said that the decision to cease operations stemmed from financial difficulties that began in 2008, when the nation’s economy fell into recession. In an effort to reduce operational expenses, the organization made staffing cuts in 2009, in 2011 and again in May of this year.
By this summer, Bancroft said, “it was looking really tenuous whether we would be able to make it through the fall.”
The group’s Board of Directors decided to transfer pps programs and its remaining staff to two partner organizations, EarthCorps and the Washington Environmental Council.
“We felt this was the best option for keeping our mission moving forward and keeping our staff employed,” Bancroft said.
Not everyone agrees. Mike Sato, a founding member and former communications director for PPS, who was laid off in August 2011, said the decision to close pps was a shock because its leaders had never asked for help.
“Over the past year, the Board and the leadership never asked, either from staff or their donor base, for help getting out of their financial situation,” Sato said.
“We could have knocked on doors, drummed up support and gotten the money we needed. But they never even let on to what dire financial straits the organization was in. So that’s part of the reason that the decision to close pps’s doors was so shocking, and also so disappointing.”
In a statement released Sept. 12, King County Executive Dow Constantine praised the group for its efforts and exhorted supporters “to pick up the baton and carry forward this urgent and vital mission.”