KBB executive director on the move

Traci Burgess is to leave the role of executive director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful to take on a new opportunity in the environmental non-profit sector.

Ms Burgess was in the position for two years, during which time the charity, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, experienced significant growth.

While she is not yet at liberty to reveal her next destination, Ms Burgess said she will continue to support KBB going forward.

KBB organises hundreds of clean-ups each year, provides educational experiences for children and adults, and advocates for sound environmental policies.

She told The Royal Gazette: “KBB struck a chord with my personal passions. I’m passionate about the environment and I’m passionate about youth and education, so it was a natural fit.

“One of our priorities is caring for the environment and we have a very robust education programme for students and adults, and through community outreach and engagement.

“At the core of everything I do is relationship-building. KBB would not be as successful as it is were it not for our donor partners and the thousands of volunteers we get to work with every year.”

Ms Burgess said the charity, which organises hundreds of land and ocean clean-ups each year, has gone through a period of “phenomenal” growth over the past two years.

She said that when she joined in April 2022, it had already been through significant growth, with a fundraising increase under Katie Berry, the former executive director, in 2021 and two major projects launched.

They were Beyond Plastic, a joint campaign with the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce supported by a working group focused on supporting the Government’s intended ban on single-use plastics, and the abandoned boats project that has been clearing the ocean of abandoned and derelict boats.

During Ms Burgess’s tenure, the charity has invested time and resources into reinforcing its infrastructure on the administrative side while maintaining its programmes, projects, community engagement and education.

Ms Burgess, who was previously national director for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “Over the past couple of years I have worked very closely with our board of directors to make sure that externally our reputation, our programmes and our impact remain solid.

“We have definitely increased our public awareness and engagement through re-establishing the value of KBB and our position in the community.

“It is KBB’s 60th anniversary and last year we designed a new logo to demonstrate the work we do on land and in the marine environment.”

Last year, KBB removed 155,000lb of roadside litter, illegal dumping and ocean trash — an 88 per cent increase on 2022.

“A lot of the increase in 2023 was due to illegal dump sites that we were tackling,” Ms Burgess explained. “That is a problem. Bermuda has a problem with littering, illegal dumping and ocean pollution.”

Since April 2022, KBB has removed more than 80 abandoned and derelict vessels from the sea in a joint partnership with the Government at a cost of more than $180,000, fully funded by private individual and corporate donors through KBB.

Ms Burgess added: “There are 30 vessels on the removal list right now that we are working on and we are getting ready to launch another round of fundraising to cover the cost of those vessels, which will be about $80,000.”

She said the biggest impact the charity has had in the community has been through education and awareness, and she said that an education sub-committee is in the works to enhance it even further.

In 2022, KBB had 2,789 student interactions and in 2023 that number grew to 4,185.

Ms Burgess said: “Every single day we are supporting our mission to encourage individuals to take greater responsibility, eliminate litter and keep the island beautiful.

“We start at preschool with our school-based education programmes and by middle school and high school, we start pulling in the United Nations sustainability goals to make connections with what is happening globally and here in Bermuda.

“Because of our unique geographical location in the middle of the North Atlantic gyre, we catch trash and ocean pollution from all around the region. We are bombarded.

“Our data tracking can lead to the development of solutions to combat the ocean pollution crisis. What we are doing here is affecting more than just our 21 square miles of land and 64 linear miles of beautiful coastline — it is having a global impact as well.”

The Bermuda Oceans Plastics Project, a four-year scheme launched under Anne Hyde when she was executive director of KBB in 2019, also marked a significant achievement.

Although delayed by Covid-19, it culminated in a major report on ocean pollution as well as a documentary.

Ms Burgess said there is plenty of room for growth at KBB and the charity is looking for the right candidate to fill the post.

She added: “This role requires someone with a natural passion for our island home who can encourage others to have the same.

“It takes a dynamic leader with people skills. It provides the opportunity to serve as the primary spokesperson for one of Bermuda’s oldest and most beloved environmental charities.

“It really is about preserving what we have and making it better for future generations. It is legacy-building.”

Royal Gazette