Trustees president and CEO Barbara Erickson passes away

Barbara Erickson (photo supplied by the Trustees)

Barbara J. Erickson, who led the Trustees since 2012, has died at the age of 48. She was suffering from a rare form of cancer of the appendix for the last four years.

“Barbara was an exceptional president and led the organization into a new era with a strong vision,” said Peter Coffin, chair of the Trustees board of directors.

A native of Gillette, Wyoming, and a Newton resident, Erickson was named the organization’s fourth president in 2012 and was its first woman in that role.

Last fall, the Trustees board appointed Jocelyn Forbush, executive vice president, as the acting president and CEO, while Erickson was on medical leave. Forbush will continue to serve in this role.

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Over Erickson’s nine-year tenure, the organization’s budget grew by more than $10 million, visitation doubled to two million, membership increased by more than 40,000 households, and nine new properties were added to the organization’s portfolio of 120 preserved places.

Erickson also completed a $26.4 million campaign which revitalized cultural properties and strengthened cultural staffing, and attracted support for many other projects.

Many acres of properties which are adjacent or abutting to current reservations were also acquired under Erickson’s leadership, the Trustees said in a statement.

Those included the multi-million dollar acquisition of Pegan Hill, Natick and Dover, which significantly expanded the previous site.

In Ipswich, “an ambitious $2.5 million purchase of a 20.5-acre inholding, referred to as the Steep Hill Parcel, on Castle Hill on the Crane Estate was completed in September 2016,” the Trustees noted.

“The parcel was the last remaining unprotected swath of land situated in the center of the 2,100-acre estate featuring important ecological habitat, 1,000 feet of pristine coastline, and scenic views,” they added.

“Under Erickson’s leadership, hundreds of donors, volunteers and community supporters came together to raise the needed funds in just four months,” the statement said.

Under her tenure, the Trustees celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016. Festivities included a performance by the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Boston Pops making their first appearance ever at The Trustees’ iconic Castle Hill property.

Erickson is survived by her parents, Arnold and Dixie Erickson; husband Peter Torrebiarte, their two children Marcelo and Lucia, and two stepsons Alejandro and Gabriel; a sister, Bonnie Jardee and her husband Ivan; a brother, Mark Erickson and his partner Lindsey; her mother and father-in-law, Adela Torrebiarte and Luis Pedro Torrebiarte; a sister-in-law, Ines Torrebiarte and her husband Gustavo Bolanos; seven nieces and nephews; and “the cutest pup to ever live,” Rocket. 

“She will continue e to serve as inspiration for all of us for many years, and we look forward to continuing the work that she began,” Coffin said.