FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Conservancy creates search committee for next executive director
(Buffalo, NY March 24, 2023) – The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Inc. board today announced that after almost nine years as executive director, Stephanie Crockatt informed the members this week that she is taking a new position in Sarasota, FL.
The combination of moving closer to family members and working with a new conservancy led her to this difficult personal and professional decision.
“Stephanie’s leadership and achievements are well known to our region,” said BOPC Board Chair Bart Kresse. “Under her stewardship, our Olmsted parks are vibrant, healthy and beautiful. And, most importantly, they are magnets for residents to use every day, to walk, run, play golf in and just find peace and relaxation. We will miss her, want to wish her all the best in her next position, and thank her for her dedication and hard work.”
Crockatt officially became BOPC executive director in May 2015, after serving for about a year as senior director of development, and then interim executive director. She came to Buffalo from the University of Georgia, where she spent seven years as a higher-education fundraising professional. Prior to that, she served almost eight years as president and executive director of the LPGA Tournament Owners Association Inc. A graduate of Michigan State University, Crockatt will continue with BOPC until May 18 to make sure spring and summer plans are well underway.
“I am beyond proud of our team, their resilience, creativity, and passion for Olmsted’s parks,” Crockatt said. “They have inspired me every day. We have gone through so much together and our outcomes have only made us stronger. The impressive accomplishments made under my tenure and service are the result of many heads, hearts and hands.”
“We fixed significant funding deficits, created a five-year planning mechanism, re-engaged the community for inclusive input and communication with the Olmsted Community Alliance, and launched YPOP, the Young Professionals for Olmsted Parks program,” Crockatt said. “We revised our mission and vision to ensure the philosophies of Olmsted remain at the forefront of park health, neighborhood connectivity, and provide welcoming spaces for all. We stabilized our budget and established a clear need for an operating endowment. Rolling up our sleeves every step of the way and getting our hands dirty every day, has helped to keep Buffalo beautiful.”
Kresse said that BOPC is in solid condition, with stable finances, a diverse and trained workforce and its oversight of the city’s historic parks is solid. The board will form a search committee and hire a search firm to fill this key vacancy, Kresse said.
“We are confident that the staff and workforce will manage the demands of summer park use with their usual skill. We expect to appoint a new executive director of this key Buffalo non-profit in the coming months,” Kresse said.
Crockatt is becoming the first president/CEO of Sarasota’s Bay Park Conservancy, a community, city and park initiative that aspires to transform 53 acres of city-owned land into a signature public park on Sarasota Bay.
“I have seriously loved getting to know Buffalo and have made some very good friends – lifelong friends – which is important to me,” Crockatt said. “I still think Buffalo is a best-kept secret. Time here seems like a blink, and I have learned so much along the way.”
“I will now have the chance to use my expertise in building a new conservancy and park with a public-private partnership. It is a career-enhancement opportunity that I feel well-positioned to take on, and I look forward to learning and growing even more,” Crockatt added. “I think of all the amazing trustees, leaders and mentors I’ve been privileged to know and learn from – and who I can’t thank enough. In Sarasota, I am sure I will have similar valuable encounters in this new role. It’s thrilling to think about.”
There remains much to accomplish that BOPC is involved with. This includes capital projects with the five-year priority plan across the system, Phase 2 of the South Park Arboretum, increasing community engagement through the Olmsted Community Alliance, and advocating for the Humboldt Parkway and 198’s re-envisioning. These projects, along with sustainability and daily care for the nationally known and award-winning Olmsted parks, will provide a new ED with opportunities for collaboration and creative solutions.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation, through a unique public-private partnership, to manage, operate and maintain an entire urban park system consisting of more than 850 acres of beautifully designed historic parks, parkways and circles. The Conservancy is an independent not-for-profit, community organization whose mission is to steward Buffalo’s historic Olmsted park system to welcome and benefit all. To accomplish this, the Conservancy collaborates with community and strategic partners, advocates for quality parks for all, and enhances the park system through beautification, maintenance, and capital projects. More than 2.5 million visits occur in Buffalo’s Olmsted Park system annually for recreation, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
The Buffalo Olmsted Park System includes:
Six parks: Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside, and South
Seven parkways: Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln, McKinley, Porter, Red Jacket, and Richmond
Eight landscaped traffic circles: Agassiz, Colonial, Ferry, Gates, McClellan, McKinley, Soldiers, and Symphony
Smaller spaces: Days, Heacock and Prospect