Barbara Erickson, Trustees of Reservations president, dies at 48

JAIME CAMPOS/Staff file photoBarbara Erickson, president and CEO of The Trustees of Reservations, speaks in 2018 during a gathering to celebrate The Trustees’ acquisition of Gerry Island in Marblehead. The Trustees on Thursday announced that Erickson died Jan. 15 after a battle with cancer. She was 48. 

Barbara Erickson, the president and CEO of the The Trustees of Reservations, died on Jan. 15 at the age of 48 after a battle with cancer, the organization announced Thursday.

Erickson had a rare cancer of the appendix, according to a spokesman for The Trustees.

Erickson became the first woman president of The Trustees in 2012. Over her nine-year tenure the nonprofit land preservation organization doubled the number of visitors to its properties to two million, added nine new properties, increased its budget by more than $10 million, and grew membership by more than 40,000 households, according to The Trustees.

“Barbara was an exceptional president and led the organization into a new era with a strong vision,” said Trustees board chair Peter Coffin in a prepared statement. “She will continue to serve as an inspiration for all of us for many years, and we look forward to continuing the work that she began.”

The board of directors appointed Executive Vice President Jocelyn Forbush as the acting president and CEO last fall while Erickson was on medical leave. Forbush will continue to serve in that role, the organization said.

The Trustees owns 120 properties in Massachusetts, including Halibut Point Reservation in Rockport, Ravenswood Park in Gloucester, Crane Beach and Castle Hill in Ipswich, Long Hill and Moraine Farm in Beverly, and Misery Islands in Salem, .

The Trustees acquired several new reservations under Erickson, including Gerry Island in Marblehead, and many acres of properties adjacent to current reservations, including Steep Hill Parcel on Castle Hill on the Crane Estate. That parcel, which The Trustees bought for $2.5 million in 2016, was the last remaining unprotected swath of land situated in the center of the 2,100-acre estate.

Also locally, the organization is restoring Long Hill in Beverly and Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, projects that began under Erickson’s leadership. Last fall The Trustees announced plans for a series of parks on the waterfront in Boston.

Erickson, originally from Gillette, Wyoming, is survived by her husband, Peter Torrebiarte, and their two children, Marcelo and Lucia, and two stepsons, Alejandro and Gabriel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to support the future education of the children, The Trustees said.

Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2535,, or on Twitter at @heardinbeverly.

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