EAST HARWICH — There’s been a change of watch at Pleasant Bay Community Boating. The group’s first executive director, Charlie Sumner, is retiring after three years in office, and former YMCA Chief Development Officer Patrick “P.J.” Richardson is taking the helm.
Richardson, a 48-year-old Centerville resident, has strong ties to the Lower Cape. His parents live in Orleans, and as a youngster he spent most summers in Brewster and Orleans, fishing, boating and swimming nearly every day.
“It was a pretty awesome way to grow up,” Richardson said. “But there’s so many people who live here on the Cape and never get to fully enjoy the things that people come to Cape Cod to enjoy.” As PBCB’s second executive director, his goal will be to spread awareness of the organization around Cape Cod, beyond the towns that border the Bay.
PBCB president Ted Baylis said they’re enthusiastic to welcome Richardson to the job.
“He is the right person for PBCB at this point in our development, and we’re excited about everything he will bring to our organization, including major fund-raising skills,” he said. At the YMCA of Cape Cod, Richardson increased annual campaign revenues from $38,000 to $300,000, growing charitable giving from 3 percent to 18 percent of the organization’s revenue. He also helped the YMCA build its brand, while landing $200,000 or more in grant funds each year.
Richardson started work Friday and said he was hugely impressed by PBCB and its staff and volunteers.
“The people power here at Pleasant Bay is absolutely amazing,” he said. “They’re the most giving, hard-working people.” On Saturday, he saw a group of scientists and teachers working on an environmental science program for children, “all here on a cold Saturday morning in February, working it out for the benefit of local kids,” Richardson said.
He said he’s also impressed by the generosity of PBCB supporters who “really appreciate and love” the group’s mission: making boating, marine education and environmental stewardship affordable and accessible. “Quite frankly, they’re willing to invest in that,” Richardson said.
For his part, Sumner said he’s proud of PBCB’s growth in the last three years, and he’s grateful for the opportunity it gave him. He came to Pleasant Bay Community Boating from the town of Brewster, where he was chief executive for many years.
“Being a town administrator was an incredibly rewarding career. But it is all-consuming, and while most of it is nice, there’s a harshness to it,” Sumner said. When he retired and came to PBCB, he found the perfect job to help him transition to full retirement.
“I never had a bad day here,” he said. “We do good things, we have fun, and it’s just terribly rewarding.”
Sumner plans to spend more time enjoying family and pastimes like hiking and boating. He also serves on the boards of several nonprofit groups and will keep busy. “And I’m still going to be active at Pleasant Bay, just as a volunteer,” he said.
Richardson said he’s eager to make sure that the broader Cape Cod community knows about PBCB and the services it offers. That will mean growing programs, he said.
“Now that they have this campus, the sky’s the limit,” he said. After years of searching for an appropriate site, PBCB acquired the 3.6-acre former McClennen estate in 2014, and now uses it as a base of operations. Richardson will help shape the ongoing $4.8 million capital campaign to support that purchase.
PBCB also recently received the donation of a floating classroom from the Friends of Pleasant Bay, and will use it not only as a platform for researchers studying water quality, flora and fauna in the Bay, but also as a platform for environmental education.
“We’re going to be creating unique learning experiences for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity, the kind of wonderful experiences that stay with you forever,” Richardson said.
“P.J.’s strong background in youth development, environmental education, adventure programming and community outreach makes him a perfect match for our needs,” Baylis added.
When he’s not working on fundraising and administrative duties, Richardson said he plans to be taking boating classes with his family.
“I’m a big kid,” he said. “I’m going to just jump into this thing with both feet.”