After the departure of Executive Director Stephanie Crockatt earlier this year, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) has appointed Catie Stephenson as its new executive director. Stephenson, who has been with the Conservancy since 2017, has a proficient background in fundraising, communications, community engagement, DEI, and advocacy.
After conducting a national search, a committee chaired by Forest Lawn Cemetery Group CEO Julie Snyder decided that Stephenson’s most recent role as BOPC’s chief development and communications officer, along with her previous role as associate director for communications at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, warranted the appointment. Other entities that conducted the national search included Conservancy trustees, a staff representative, and a member of the philanthropic community.
The search committee also worked with Koya Partners, an executive search firm that specializes in serving mission-driven organizations. In the end, the search resulted in more than 100 contacts, 29 formal applications, and two finalists.
In her new position, Stephenson will continue to implement strategies to enhance organizational sustainability, efficiency, and collaboration, which she excelled at while working with Crockatt, who served for nine years as executive director. In her current position of chief development and communications officer, Stephenson helped to increase the Conservancy’s contributed income by 10 percent annually, from $700,000 to $1.1 million.
“We could not be more pleased that our thorough nationwide search led us back to the excellence of our own offices,” said Conservancy board chair and search committee member Bart Kresse. “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.”
.“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’s education accreditations include: 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 non-profit management from the Harvard Business School.
“The City of Buffalo enjoys a strong partnership with the Olmsted Conservancy. We’ve contracted with the Conservancy to work hand in hand on the maintenance and upkeep of our city’s beautiful parks,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “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’ list of 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
- Advocating for the Humboldt Parkway and 198’s re-envisioning
- Sustainability and daily care for the nationally known and award-winning Olmsted parks
Stephenson will begin her new position on January 2, 2024.