Connecting land and people
We understand local needs because we are locals: working from more than 30 field offices nationwide, we craft customized solutions to local conservation challenges, drawing from the resources and experience of a national organization. From San Francisco, to Atlanta, to New York, to Denver, we are transforming communities across the country – bringing parks and open space to millions. Our success starts with our staff who bring a diversity of backgrounds, education, and experience to The Trust for Public Land. Scroll down to meet some of our team.
My team focuses on creating innovative conservation planning models that communities can use to make strategic decisions around ‘land for people' conservation. With more people living in cities, we are focusing on alternative transportation and greenways and reducing urban heat islands. In cities, close-to-home nature is key: people aren’t going to care about protecting pristine wilderness if they’re not connected to nature in their own communities. We use GIS and apps to help communities make conservation decisions from the main streets to the mountain tops and I love this work!
We talk about “boomerang kids,” Trust for Public Land staff who leave to work elsewhere and then end up coming back because they miss the people and the work they got to do here. I just finished a project with a California tribe who hasn’t had unfettered access to the coast for generations because they lost their land 150 years ago. Seeing the impact of our work on people—and getting to advance social justice as well as environmental conservation—that means a lot to me.
Growing up in Colorado I learned to love nature, from playing in my neighborhood park to hiking in the Rocky Mountains. Our mission is to connect everyone to nature through our participatory approach to park design and development. Partnering with different communities in the Denver Metro Area, engaging residents of all ages in park design, working collaboratively with my colleagues – those are the reasons I love working at The Trust for Public Land.
Access to nature is vital for all people, not just the people in the high-rises. I grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. My mother took us on three buses to see nature, something I can appreciate better now that I have children and grandchildren. People need nature like animals need nature; we are mammals too. Stewardship is so important. Not just for nature, but also for humans.
It’s easy for organizations to celebrate their collective successes, but it’s not always easy to promote a culture where individual contributions are celebrated. I know I make a difference here, and the mission speaks to me. I grew up in L.A., where the outdoor space nearby was not safe and we had no access to parks. I had a cemetery to play in! Our mission means great outdoor spaces for everyone.
My work centers on aloha aina—love for the land. Aina refers to land, but also to our source of nourishment, both physical and spiritual. My work is about reconnecting people to their lands, and I love exploring the stories of those lands. Right now we’re protecting the last threatened parcels of the Ka Iwi Coast on Oahu. The first pahu (drum) was heard there, the same type of drum that is still used in hula today.
We’re opening the door to nature for everybody, not just the fleece-vest crowd, whether that’s through parks and trails in Salt Lake City, an urban wildlife refuge in Albuquerque, or a 30,000-acre ranch in southern Arizona. I’m an avid skier, but when the snow melts I’m still following the water by fishing, rafting, and boating. Early on, I was inspired by people whose life mission was to make sure wild places exist for everybody. There was no question that’s what I wanted to do.
What we do is incredibly tangible. I can fly over Washington, California, and Oregon and see areas that I helped protect as part of The Trust for Public Land team. We worked with the Yakima Indian Nation to buy back Lyle Point on the Columbia River, the site of a historic village wiped out by disease and threatened by development. We just helped create an 80-acre park in an underserved area of Portland, which I’m proud of because social justice is such a personally meaningful part of our work.
You can go anywhere in America and put your hands and feet on our work. We’re ensuring that where people have to live is where people want to live. I love my Atlanta neighborhood, but it’s made more wonderful by the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site—a Trust for Public Land project. I’m fortunate in my daily work, too. People ask: how do you know someone in every city? I love turning strangers into friends.
In Hawai’i people don’t regard the land as a separate entity, but literally as part of their family. So many stories about the land are associated with the culture and people who were significant in the past. Surfers are also a surprising group of conservationists; they’re a scrappy, resourceful bunch. They’ve fought to save surfing areas from development. We have a running joke with our land trust partners: “Save surf spots!”
I'm an environmentalist who loves cities. Some people might think that's a contradiction, but the people at The Trust for Public Land know that it isn't. Cities are good for the environment because they cut down on driving and on heating so many individual homes. And there's hardly a more enjoyable environment than a great city park. That ties in to my lifelong passions, which are, counting backwards: 3. railroad trains; 2. bicycles; and 1. rails-to-trails, where it all comes together.
My work compels me to be in a different place every day and to be learning every day. I grew up canoeing in Ontario and backpacking in Wyoming, and having nature close to home has taken on renewed value now that I have a family. Now I get to go from the most packed urban areas to the most spectacular rural landscapes.
It’s a rarity in the legal field to be able to say, “I love my job.” The Trust for Public Land has provided me with interesting and complex legal work that never ceases to inspire and challenge me, and its mission alone of protecting land and water and connecting people and land is a huge draw for me. I also get to work with almost all of my colleagues across the country and I get to directly enjoy the variety of landscapes that The Trust for Public Land protects, from the tennis courts in my neighborhood to the hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains.
Nature is my passion, in whatever form—the real wilderness, a weekend trip, or just a walk in a city park. Being able to wander around and spend time in natural spaces is rejuvenating. My calling is about sustainable use and reuse of open space, and helping to create connections between people and their environment, both natural and created. That kind of work is a huge part of our city and national programs
When you’re connecting people to the land, it’s very spiritual. It’s a service to the community as well as to the earth. I come from the community; my work is about inclusion, about educating and empowering the people we serve. It's about being a voice for the voiceless.
I love how fascinating, capable, and committed our people are and feel lucky that in my efforts to find and sustain the most efficient and viable technology systems for our organization I get to talk staff members from all of our lines of business. I grew up camping in Colorado and panning for garnets in the river and feel that if we don’t preserve land for our kids to enjoy they’ll never have access to the island of peace that nature offers.
I’ve always seen nature in everyday urban environments. Bringing that experience to others is a key part of our mission. No other organization does the conservation finance work we do, working directly with communities to help pass ballot measures and generate money for land conservation and parks. We track how public money for conservation is spent across the country in the Conservation Almanac, and people use our data to show accountability and answer all kinds of questions about conservation and open space.
One of my favorite projects is Hyde Farm on the Chattahoochee River. The owners, two brothers, had promised never to let the property be developed and were still working the farm with animals in the 1990s. We helped convert it to a life estate and now it will become a working farm where kids can come and learn. Every park represents many ways for people to find their own meaningful connection to the land.
I grew up in South Central LA and played soccer after school in our local park. It wasn’t always the safest or cleanest place, but it was a place where families could picnic, adults could join a pick-up soccer or basketball game, and kids could be kids. For The Trust for Public Land, it’s not just about finding a vacant lot and building a park—it’s about partnering with residents in park-poor neighborhoods to become advocates for healthy places at the local level, and exploring the impact of climate change on their communities.
The Trust for Public Land is an entrepreneurial organization. Your work is driven by your skills, your expertise, and your passion. There’s a lot to be done, but the structure may not be handed to you. I’m passionate about open space, about cities and furthering a city’s efforts to be a vibrant, compelling place to live in. I’m fortunate that it all came together in this great career.
Being able to explore different departments and aspects of our work has been a great experience; I started at The Trust for Public Land as an intern and got to grow within the organization. In Federal Affairs, we work to support our teams around the country doing important work to build community and well-being, protect the environment, and celebrate public spaces — all things I find fascinating. I love that central to our environmental mission is community, and that our work has significant, long-lasting impact.
I love the cartographic work I get to do at The Trust for Public Land; the work is exciting, varied, and I work to support staff across the entire organization, from Hawaii to Maine. When I travel, it’s exciting to pull up our maps of the land the organization has protected and the parks it’s developed and then experience those places firsthand; this has helped me develop a deep appreciation for our work. My two passions are turning data into useful tools and helping to support the health of communities; I’m lucky that my work at The Trust for Public Land fulfills both.