Lilla McLane-Bradley was dogged; she was fearless; she showed up and she put us to work. I met Lilla in 1987, when I was hired for a part time bookkeeping and secretarial position. She was incoming chair of the Upper Valley Land Trust’s Board – UVLT for short - a group with a big idea – land conservation from the grassroots; sustainable and permanent protection of our region’s most special places.
Lilla personified the energy and generosity necessary to realize that vision and sustain it. Her enthusiasm was practical and inescapable. A person who responded to her request for advice was very likely to receive a compliment in the form of an assignment. And very few people could say no to Lilla.
Lilla simultaneously networked, advocated, organized, fundraised, and performed any necessary volunteer function. Her to do list was ridiculous. She set impossible goals, persuaded the rest of us that we could reach them, and was delighted when we did.
Lilla walked or skied every day and was passionate about trails and open space for all. She insisted that every UVLT conservation project be evaluated for potential public access. That practice continues today. Of our 500 conserved properties, more than a third contains trails or other access provisions.
Lilla’s good works were not limited to UVLT. She profoundly impacted many Upper Valley institutions that we take for granted today — from affordable housing, women’s issues, and mental health, to philanthropy, education and politics. She convened people to get things done, to keep our community better connected, healthier, more generous and fair.
In old file photos she’s the happiest face on every hike and the center of any gathering, raising her glass to toast someone else, or reaching across the table for another group of letters to sign.
Today UVLT is recognized nationally for its conservation, stewardship and recreation accomplishments and for its impact on regional volunteerism.
And we have Lilla, quite literally, to thank for that.