Vineyard Conservation Society director to retire

From left, Samantha Look, Signe Benjamin, Jeremy Houser, and Brendan O'Neill from the Vineyard Conservation Society. — MV Times

The Vineyard Conservation Society announced in a press release that its executive director, Brendan O’Neill, will be retiring in June after nearly 40 years in the position. 

O’Neill’s successor will be Samantha Look, who is currently the society’s director of advocacy and education. Look will begin her new position on July 1. 

“It is time for the next generation of Vineyard conservationists to shine, and I have every confidence in Samantha Look, along with our dedicated and talented staff, to ensure a smooth and continued operation of the programs that advance the VCS mission of education, outreach, and advocacy in defense of the land and waters of Martha’s Vineyard,” O’Neill said in the release. “I am very pleased to have played a part in that over the past four decades.”

According to the release, O’Neill received training in law, science, and the environment before joining the society in 1985. Since then, he led various initiatives including protecting Nip n’ Tuck Farm and Morning Glory Farm and saving a rare habitat along Moshup Trail in Aquinnah. 

Look began her time with the society on the board of directors; she has also led initiatives on the Island, such as getting a bylaw banning single-use plastic bags passed at town meetings; she also helped develop the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s Climate Action Plan. 

Look is quoted in the release saying that the society is “absolutely critical,” particularly with a “multitude of competing land use pressures and climate change concerns.” 

“Sam has a compelling vision to lead VCS into its next chapter as we continue our work to protect the health of Vineyard land, waters, and wildlife,” Vineyard Conservation Society board chair Jennifer Blum said in the release. 

The society invites the public to welcome Look as the new executive director and celebrate O’Neill’s years of leadership during the society’s annual meeting on Tuesday, June 20, at 5:30 pm at the Grange Hall.


  1. Islanders owe a great deal to Brendan’s steadfast and effective advocacy over these four decades! Thank you.

  2. Thank you Brendan for your perseverance and tireless commitment in conserving our beautiful Island. You have left your mark.

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