Conservancy chooses current BOPC executive as Crockatt successor
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy board of trustees announced the appointment of Catie Stephenson as its new executive director.
Stephenson, 37, joined the conservancy in 2017, and most recently served as chief development and communications officer. In this role, Stephenson led an interdisciplinary team responsible for fundraising, communications, community engagement, DEI and advocacy. Prior to Olmsted, she was associate director for communications at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
A national search seeking new leadership began in June following the departure of Stephanie Crockatt, who after nine years leading the conservancy accepted a position in Florida in March.
A press release noted, “A search committee chaired by Forest Lawn Cemetery Group CEO Julie Snyder included conservancy trustees, a staff representative, and a member of the philanthropic community. It worked with Koya Partners, an executive search firm that specializes in serving mission-driven organizations, on a search that resulted in more than 100 contacts, 29 formal applications and two finalists.”
Conservancy board chair and search committee member Bart Kresse said, “We could not be more pleased that our thorough nationwide search led us back to the excellence of our own offices. Catie knows our organization through and through, has the respect of our staff and board, and fully understands the opportunities and challenges ahead in stewarding Buffalo’s amazing parks.”
In Stephenson’s current role, she supported the executive director in creating and implementing strategy to enhance organizational sustainability, efficiency and collaboration, while increasing the conservancy’s contributed income by 10% annually, from $700,000 to $1.1 million.
“I would like to thank the search committee and the conservancy’s trustees for their thoughtful process and consideration. I am absolutely delighted, honored and excited to move into this role,” Stephenson said. “Thanks to my experience with the conservancy, advocating for parks and public spaces has become my passion. Doing this work in Buffalo, my beloved hometown, has become my life’s work. I look forward to working with every member of the conservancy’s expert staff in service of our community.”
Stephenson is a 2008 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, with a B.A. in political science and American history. She held the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs and received an M.A. in public and nonprofit management in 2015 from the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. In 2018, she earned a certificate in nonprofit management from the Harvard Business School.
"The City of Buffalo enjoys a strong partnership with the Olmsted Conservancy,” Mayor Byron Brown said. “We've contracted with the conservancy to work hand in hand on the maintenance and upkeep of our city's beautiful parks. Having previously collaborated with Catie during her tenure at the conservancy, we have confidence in her abilities and are pleased with her appointment as executive director."
Olmsted Parks’ priorities include 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 reenvisioning. The press release noted, “These projects, along with sustainability and daily care for the nationally known and award-winning Olmsted parks, will provide the organization with opportunities for collaboration and creative solutions.”
Stephenson will begin her new position on Jan. 2, 2024.
More About Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy
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 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. www.bfloparks.org.
The Buffalo Olmsted Park System includes six parks: Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo, Delaware Park in Delaware/Parkside District, Front Park at the Peace Bridge, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at Fillmore Avenue, Riverside Park at Niagara and Tonawanda Street, and South Park at McKinley Parkway; seven parkways: Bidwell, Chapin, Lincoln, McKinley, Porter, Red Jacket and Richmond; and eight landscaped traffic circles: Agassiz, Colonial, Ferry, Gates, McClellan, McKinley, Soldiers and Symphony.