The first time Edward H. “Ted” Ladd paid a visit to Dover’s Noanet Woodlands in the early 1980s, he encountered a hiccup on the way to the top. Vague (and long-since-replaced) signage steered him off course. No matter: he bushwhacked his way to Noanet Peak, stepped just beyond the summit’s rocky outcrop, and took in an exhilarating view of the Boston skyline.
That indefatigable spirit has defined the life and work of Ted Ladd, The Trustees’ 2019 Charles Eliot Award winner. By merging a conservationist’s passion with an executive’s expertise, Ted has been instrumental in advancing the organization’s mission for nearly 40 years. “He immerses himself in a subject, establishes a perspective, looks off into the near and distant future, and asks the hard questions,” says Trustees President & CEO Barbara Erickson, who counts Ted as a trusted advisor. “What if we don’t do this right? What if we aren’t brave enough? What if our approach is too meek? Then he gets to work.”
Around Boston, Ted is perhaps best known for his work in the business sphere, where he presently serves as Chairman Emeritus of Mellon Investment—the North American investment management firm of BNY Mellon, with assets under management of $500 billion. Once he leaves the boardroom, however, Ted indulges a lifelong love of the outdoors, whether it’s sailing off Cape Cod, exploring locales from the Grand Tetons to Antarctica, or hiking Trustees destinations around the Commonwealth.
In 1983, concerned about development within his community in Dover, Ted joined The Trustees. He became a devoted advocate for the organization’s mission, serving as a corporate trustee, a member of the advisory board, and eventually serving on the board of directors—even donating a conservation restriction on his family’s property along the Charles River to The Trustees in 1991. “I have a personal prejudice that one of the big issues, particularly of our time, is trying to allocate resources between the present and the future—and that the future almost always gets starved,” Ted once said.
Perhaps in response to that ongoing sense of urgency, Ted’s commitment to The Trustees has both deepened and broadened over time. In 2006, he co-chaired a campaign that raised a record $63 million for the organization. In 2017, he played a vital role on the fundraising committee for the 50th anniversary celebration of World’s End. Now, in addition to a fourth term on the Trustees’ Board of Directors, he chairs the Boston Waterfront Task Force. And no matter the season, the view from Noanet Peak frequently lures him back in every season. “I relish the opportunity for quiet contemplation,” Ted says, “and the temporary illusion that we are all living in a world more nearly perfect than it is.”