The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has named its new President and CEO.

CBT appointed Johnny Strilaeff to the position this week, the organization says via an official statement, as he has been with the Trust since 2005 and most recently acted as Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.

“Johnny was our unanimous choice. It is a comfort, that at a difficult time when we have to make difficult decisions, we knew with complete confidence that Johnny could step into this role,” says Board Chair, Rick Jensen.

“As a board, we have the best interests of the Trust and its continued successful operation in mind,” he says.

Strilaeff moves into the position following the unexpected passing of long-time President and CEO Neil Muth earlier this month.

Strilaeff was born and raised in Castlegar, B.C., in the southeast Kootenay Valley, and is a graduate of Selkirk College, as well as the University of Calgary, according to CBT.

When Strilaeff joined the Trust in 2005 he was responsible for the investment program, according to CBT. However in recent years, the organization says he’s taken on a far more hands-on role as Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, while acting as an advisor to the CEO and a member of the executive management committee.

“I am humbled and honoured by the Board’s decision. I am committed to work diligently to continue Neil’s legacy of strong community relationships, support for Basin priorities, and maintaining the Trust as an effective and efficient organization,” says Strilaeff.

“Under Neil’s leadership, the Trust matured into a robust organization with talented staff, and as a result we can continue meeting the needs of Basin communities without any interruption to our operations.

“This is a direct result of Neil’s vision for the organization and a testament to his leadership,” he says.

Strilaeff ’s appointment as President and CEO is effective immediately, according to CBT.