Veteran nonprofit leader hired to take the helm at IRU

IRU’s new executive director, Mark Blaiser, joins the team June 1.

Following a four-month nationwide search, Boise resident Mark Blaiser has been hired to serve as IRU’s  new executive director.

Blaiser, who has more than 15 years’ experience working in the environmental field and with other non-profits, is set to start work on June 1. He will succeed Executive Director Bill Sedivy, who is leaving IRU after 16 years to pursue other professional goals.

Blaiser is presently working as a development officer at The Cabin, a nonprofit center for the literary arts based in Boise. Earlier in his career he either founded or helped lead the work of three environmental groups, ran his own non-profit consulting firm and founded and managed a small environmentally-sensitive building company.

“The IRU board is thrilled to have found someone with Mark’s experience, skillset and training to help lead IRU into its next 25 years,” said IRU Board President John Wells of Ketchum. “I’m confident that Mark will be successful in keeping IRU the preeminent advocate for wild fish and clean, free-flowing rivers in Idaho.

“Bill Sedivy really set a really high bar for river advocacy work in our state. It was very important that we find the right successor, and in Mark I’m confident that we have done that.”

A native of Wisconsin, Blaiser is no stranger to the rivers of Idaho and the West, as well as the threats they face.

“I’ve paddled and fly-fished many of Idaho’s great rivers, from Wild and Scenic Rivers to one of the most repeatedly threatened stretches in Idaho, Oneida Narrows of the Bear River,” Blaiser said. “I’ve also made multiple trips to Alsaka and experienced the magic of a healthy and sustainable wild salmon run, knowing first-hand the value wild salmon and steelhead can provide a state, its local communities and cultures.

“I can’t wait to dive in and do my part for Idaho’s wonderful rivers and native fish.”

In addition to IRU’s important and effective work over the years, Blaiser said the people of IRU have already inspired him.

“Upon meeting the staff and board, as well as several long-time IRU members, the high level of dedication and passion everyone has for the organization and its mission was obvious,” Blaiser said. “I’m proud to be the newest member of the IRU team and am looking forward to launching into the next 25 years of river conservation work.”

IRU was founded 25 years ago by Boise resident and Michigan native Wendy Wilson. Sedivy was the organization’s second executive director.

For 16 years Bill Sedivy has worked to defend Idaho’s rivers. He’s stepping down to pursue new professional opportunities.

During his time at IRU, Sedivy said he was lucky to work with so many passionate and talented people throughout Idaho and beyond. He’s proud of a number of organizational accomplishments, but pointed to three highlights from his tenure:

  • Working through an eight-year collaborative effort and achieving designation of 325 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers in the Owyhee and Bruneau river basins.
  • Successfully defending Idaho’s endangered salmon from extinction. Although the fight for wild salmon is far from over, IRU’s work has made a difference for these threatened and endangered species.
  • Working hand-in-hand with the Nez Perce Tribe and local residents to stop megaloads of oil equipment from spoiling the Lochsa-Clearwater Wild and Scenic River corridor in north Idaho.

“Looking forward, I think the work of defending our rivers is going to become even more challenging,” Sedivy said. “I’m thrilled with Mark’s selection to help lead the organization forward.  He’s got great experience, a passion for rivers and the skillset needed to move IRU and its mission ahead in the next 25 years.”