Over 30 years ago, I was struck by the magic of the national parklands at the Golden Gate. Here, on the doorstep of millions of people, were places of timeless beauty, deep history, and natural bounty. Few urban areas had such good fortune. I was honored to be selected as the first executive director of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy (then the Parks Association). I began with big dreams, four staff members, and a handful of supporters.
Since that beginning, my journey with “Parks For All Forever” has been more than I ever could have imagined. Our parks drew together people of amazing public service and profound generosity. I have consistently experienced the very best in people: with my exceptionally talented staff, our visionary Board of Trustees, our steadfast partners at the National Park Service, Presidio Trust and more, our generous donors, our energetic cadre of volunteers, our scores of community partners, our many public advocates, our elected officials, and our millions of park visitors.
With this astonishing mix of people and parks, we have done so much with the support of the community and the collaboration of our public agency partners. We have transformed historic military posts into thriving national parks. We have restored nature at our doorstep. We have made history come alive. We have engaged hundreds of thousands of volunteers. We have planted millions of native plants. We have served youth of all backgrounds, making our national parks a place to grow and learn.
Since its inception, the Parks Conservancy has provided more than $500 million of support to the parks and the Golden Gate National Parks have become America’s most visited national park. We have so much to appreciate and celebrate in our journey to fulfill the vision of “Parks For All Forever.”
This journey has not been my journey, but our journey. These accomplishments are not my accomplishments, but our accomplishments. This legacy is not my legacy, but our legacy. We have shown the power of collective action for the greater good. And most importantly, the journey continues.
As I embark on my transition from President & CEO to my role as Special Projects Advisor, I remain so committed to the future of our parklands. Soon, the Presidio Tunnel Tops will open, Crissy Field will be enhanced once again, and our Park Youth Collaborative will triple the number of kids we serve. There is always progress in the Golden Gate National Parks, and there are always new and innovative ways to fulfill our vision and mission.
In fact, the DNA of these parklands is about inclusion, innovation, collaboration, and generosity. These wonderful human attributes are at the core of our successes. They have been the “super powers” of our parklands from the time the community first mobilized to save these special places by establishing a national park on the doorstep of the Bay Area.
To all those who have been part of the Conservancy’s evolution and part of my life as President & CEO, I extend such profound thanks. Together, we have worked to make our parklands more and more magical and more and more relevant to our community. Along our journey, you have brought me happiness and fulfillment beyond measure. You have made me laugh with joy and cry at emotional moments of human connection in our parks. Your friendship and camaraderie has given me more than you will ever know.
So I am embarking on my transition with such gratitude for the past and optimism for the future. The Conservancy will find a bold new leader ready to forge the next chapter of “Parks For All Forever.” I will be on hand to bring some key park transformations, such as the Presidio Tunnel Tops, to completion. And you will be where you always have been: as visionary, generous, kind, and passionate friends of our parks – helping support their splendid place in the lives of so many and extend their benefits to the full breadth of our community.
President & CEO