AUGUSTA – Nine years ago, Ken Smith helped found Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed to protect and improve the quality of 28 lakes and streams between Mount Vernon and Gardiner.

Now he’s taken over as executive director.

Smith, 59, was a swift hire as a replacement for Bob Moore, who left at the end of August to become vice president of institutional advancement at his alma mater, Thomas College, in Waterville.

“Ken was a founder of the organization along with Jay Snider,” said Dr. Jeff Timm, president of the group’s Board of Directors. “He has the passion, energy and ability to take us to new levels.”

Timm said the organization had set up a search committee and was preparing to advertise for applicants when Smith’s name came up. Timm said he contacted Smith and everyone on the board and the search committee.

“There was overwhelming support to offer Ken the position,” Timm said.

Smith, who formerly operated Custom Electronics of Falmouth, spent his first day as the Friends executive director just after Labor Day.

He had served on the board until about a year ago. “I didn’t live in the area any more,” Smith said. “I was in South Portland and couldn’t get to the meetings.”

Recently, he moved to Brunswick.

Smith spent 30 years on Cobbossee Lake in West Gardiner. He grew up in East Monmouth, graduating from Monmouth Academy in 1968 and Thomas College in 1973.

Smith has experience in fundraising, as well, doing bicycle rides for three years in a row to benefit the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care and the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

“Probably the biggest thing that I will bring to the group is my passion for the lake and the watershed,” Smith said.