Parks & Trails New York
Opportunity to Lead the Premiere NYS Organization
Partnering to Protect, Expand, and Enhance a Network
of Parks, Trails, and Green Spaces
Parks & Trails New York (PTNY) seeks an Executive Director to lead the organization into its next phase of growth and statewide impact. The next Executive Director will build on the significant accomplishments of current ED, Robin Dropkin, who will retire in early 2023 after 25 years leading the organization and over 32 years of service to PTNY and the millions of people who enjoy New York’s parks and trails. Many grassroots organizations around the state who support New York’s incomparable natural amenities look to PTNY for leadership, support and vision to advocate for protection, restoration and expansion of the State’s extensive parks and trails systems. Through its many partnerships that include Friends groups, government leaders, conservation and environmental organizations, and members and donors, PTNY is recognized as a driving force of protection and access to New York’s most treasured green spaces. This is an opportunity to lead the organization at a pivotal time in its history, as the use of parks and trails has expanded significantly, stretching public resources even thinner, while the passage of the Environmental Bond Act and a “game changing” state budget in 2022 offer unprecedented areas for growth and expansion.
The next Executive Director will be a visionary and dedicated leader working with a talented and passionate team to advance the mission of PTNY and secure long-term sustainability. Strengthening existing donor support and building new sources of funding, including expanding PTNY’s revenue model are key elements of the position. PTNY has a budget of $3.5 million (including $2 million in regranting funds), and a staff of 12 who advocate for additional support for parks and multi-use trails and administer an array of programs to support and enhance existing public green space. The position therefore requires excellent leadership, communication, management and fundraising experience.
PTNY is an independent 501c3 whose purpose is to ensure that everyone, residents and visitors alike, has access to a world-class network of parks and trails for generations to come. In 1985 a group of passionate park advocates came together and decided that New York’s magnificent state park system merited its own advocacy group. At a conference in November of that year, the New York Parks and Conservation Association was born. The organization’s purview quickly grew to include trails (linear parks), outdoor recreation, active transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian issues. In 2004, the organization became Parks & Trails New York to better represent its work and vision of a connected network of parks and trails. Today, Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for parks and trails, dedicated to improving health, economy, and quality of life through the use and enjoyment of green space. PTNY works to expand, protect and promote a network of parks, trails, and open spaces throughout New York state for use and enjoyment by all. For more on PTNY’s history, visit https://www.ptny.org/about-us
PTNY is a driving force in support of implementation of New York’s Greenway Trails Plan, building off of the spine of the Empire State Trail to connect people and communities with multi-use trails around the state. As the leading advocate for New York’s State Park system, PTNY organizes the annual Park Advocacy Day which lobbies for additional capital and operating funding for state parks and public lands.
PTNY helps to ensure public spaces are well-cared for and stewarded for generations to come and develops best-practice resources and events to support the 80+ nonprofit organizations (Friends groups) affiliated with New York’s state parks and public lands. PTNY administers the $2 million Park and Trail Partnership Grant program, which directs money from the Environmental Protection Fund to Friends groups for the preservation and promotion of New York’s public lands. PTNY is the leading organizer of two of the state’s largest spring volunteer clean-up events, I Love My Park Day and Canal Clean Sweep. PTNY also works with trail towns along the Empire State Trail and the Genesee Valley Greenway to aid these communities in benefitting from their proximity to these long-distance trails, helping to build a sustainable local economy of trail-based tourism.
PTNY connects outdoor enthusiasts with the State’s most iconic destinations. In support of the increased interest in cycling and New York’s significant trails system, PTNY organizes two week-long nationally recognized bike tours, Cycle the Erie Canal and the upcoming Cycle the Hudson Valley, that will together bring more than 1,000 riders along more than 500 miles of the Empire State Trail. PTNY publishes two best-selling guidebooks, Cycling the Erie Canal and Cycling the Hudson and Champlain Valleys, providing a critical resource for those who are planning self-supported trips along the two legs of the 750-mile Empire State Trail. PTNY administers a Cycle the Erie Canal website with interactive map and runs numerous other programs through the Canalway Trail Partnership, a visionary collaboration to promote the historic Erie Canalway Trail.
Diversity and Inclusion
There are many opportunities to develop pathways for increased access and engagement in keeping with PTNY’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) commitment. PTNY has joined other organizations to support the broader goal to increase DEIA in our parks, trails, open spaces, and beyond and is aware of the need for equity to drive its work. The next Executive Director will therefore be a champion of DEIA, and place emphasis on greater access and inclusion in New York State’s vital parks and trails systems experiences. PTNY values diversity in all its forms and actively encourages candidates with diverse backgrounds to apply. It does not discriminate against any candidate or employee based on race, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion or veteran status.
About Albany and the Capitol Region
Albany is the capital of New York State and has a metro-region population of 1.2 million that includes the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy. It is located along the Hudson River, about 150 miles north of New York City. As the state capitol, Albany is a diverse, bustling and thriving community. The Hudson Valley region has a rich history and played a pivotal role in the country’s founding. Nearby historic towns and villages offer a variety of lifestyle options. Today, the region offers boundless outdoor recreation and cultural opportunities that are too many to list but include dozens of state and community parks, hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and multi-use trails, camping, boating, fishing and skiing. Fine and performing arts venues along with excellent schools, colleges and universities complete the Albany region picture. The Catskill Mountain region and world-class parks and recreational connectors such as the Erie Canalway Trail and Empire State Trail system are international outdoor attractions as is the state’s 6 million-acre Adirondack Park to the north. For 2022-23, U.S. News and World Report ranked Albany the #1 place to live in New York. There is easy travel to and from Albany via Albany International Airport, Amtrak, and the interstate highway system.
- Advance PTNY’s goals to expand access to New York’s parks and trails and to advance the principles of DEIA.
- Utilize existing and establish new partnerships and relationships to secure support for PTNY.
- Actively maintain relationships with the NYS Parks Agency, the Governor’s office and other state political leadership to ensure visibility and State-level support of PTNY.
- Travel as necessary to develop relationships, support and projects.
- Serve as a leading spokesperson for PTNY, its mission and programs, supporting and participating in donor and sponsor relations.
- Communicate clearly with the Board and internal departments, key government contacts and support groups to ensure results.
- Work with the Board and staff to develop and advance the strategic direction of PTNY.
- Manage upward to ensure positive and productive Board relations, ensuring transparency, best-practices for governance and Board development; oversee the preparation of Board materials for meetings and accurate record keeping.
- Work with staff to shape and deliver programs informed by PTNY’s mission, vision, and values.
- Establish and monitor program and project timelines and budgets, working with staff and partnering entities to ensure goals, objectives and outcomes are met.
- Mentor and guide with empathy, employing principles of servant leadership.
- Steward an organizational culture that prioritizes structure, collaboration, and teamwork.
This is a multi-tasking position requiring vision and attention to detail, strong interest in people and relationships, and the ability to connect and advocate while supporting and mentoring a talented team in a fast-paced work environment. The position carries with it responsibility for significant statewide relationships that must be maintained and grown, but the position also requires management and organization skills, focused on a team-centered value system built on trust and respect, collaboration, and leading with confidence. Expertise and experience within the environmental, tourism, or outdoor recreation sectors is preferred as are these qualifications:
- Strong interpersonal and diplomatic skills with the ability to network and connect with a range of partners, donors, funders and collaborators.
- Exceptional communication skills, both written and oral; a confident public speaker and effective storyteller, able to build partnerships through positive relationships and compelling messaging.
- Excellent management and organizational skills, a multi-tasker with the ability to oversee staff without micromanaging, to pay attention to details while focusing on the big picture.
- 5 years’ experience in parks, trails, related environmental organization or government relations overseeing staff, budgets, programs and support.
- Proven success in strategic planning, setting goals, and achieving outcomes.
- Experience working with diverse constituents, partner entities, and stakeholders across a broad network.
- Evidence of commitment to programs that advance DEIA initiatives including expanding diverse team development and public engagement.
- Fundraising and donor relations experience leading annual fund solicitations, building corporate partnerships, donor cultivation, membership programs, and major gift solicitations.
- Experience with soliciting, securing, and overseeing implementation of private, state, and federal grants.
- Proven success in scaling programs and/or creating and implementing new programs.
- Proven experience and effectiveness in government relations to garner support is a plus.
The anticipated salary is $145,000-$165,000 commensurate with experience, plus a benefits package including health care, vacation and sick leave, 403b retirement plan, dental and vision insurance, and relocation expenses. Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States.
For More Information/How to Apply
Please send an email for more information or to make nominations. To apply, submit a cover letter, résumé/CV, and names of 3 references with their contact information and your professional relationship to them, by January 6, 2023 to: Dan Keegan, Search Consultant, Museum Leadership Placement, [email protected]. References will not be contacted without prior permission of the applicant.
Flex Work Consideration
PTNY recognizes the increased interest in flexible work environments and the benefits and challenges remote and hybrid work opportunities can offer. It is anticipated that the current flexible work arrangement with appropriate remote workdays for the PTNY staff will continue along with on-site work and meetings to ensure strong teams and healthy interpersonal relations. Residency within the City of Albany is not a requirement but proximity is important.