July 20, 2016 – Bozeman, MT/Gardiner, MT – The board of directors of the Yellowstone Association (YA) and the Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF) announced today that Heather White has been selected as president and CEO of the combined organization. In October 2015, the two organizations announced their intention to merge. They have been operating jointly since March 2016 and expect the merger to close by October 2016.
White is a nationally-recognized environmental leader and a proven nonprofit executive. She was the executive director of Environmental Working Group (EWG), managing significant growth and change for the organization, increasing its impact and effectiveness while also directing successful, innovative fundraising strategies. Prior to EWG, White was the director of education advocacy for National Wildlife Federation and before that served as counsel to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
“This is an exciting time for Yellowstone and for the future of our organization,” said Kay Yeager, board chair of YPF and of the combined organization. “We sought out a vibrant leader who could harness that excitement and take us to the next level in terms of engagement and education as well as philanthropy. Heather is all that and more. She is widely recognized as an accomplished environmental leader with a proven ability to direct a dynamic and effective organization. She is deeply passionate about Yellowstone and I am confident that she will make enormous contributions toward the shared goal of sustaining the world’s first national park for future generations,” said Yeager, who served as co-chair of the search committee.
“When we began this journey, we were clear that this was about more than just merging two organizations,” said Claire Campbell, board chair of YA and co-chair of the search committee. “We wanted to seize this opportunity to create something meaningful, and that’s exactly what we have done. We are building a new partnership model with the National Park Service, one that will engage more visitors and future stewards than ever before. That vision is a bold one and we found a correspondingly bold leader in Heather. She embodies a new generation of leadership for our public lands and iconic spaces. She has deep roots in environmental education and conservation, and a demonstrated record as an effective advocate. We are thrilled to have such a talented, strong leader at the helm and we look forward to an exciting future, together,” said Campbell.
“Yellowstone is truly a national treasure, one that offers unique opportunities to connect with something larger than ourselves, to change lives, and to be a part of our shared national history,” said White. “The merger of these two extraordinary institutions will serve as a beacon for what conservation organizations can be in the 21st century. I am thrilled by the opportunity to be part of this exciting future, to channel my passion for preserving important places, and my dedication to connecting people, especially young people, to the beauty and wonder of nature. I look forward to working with the exceptional board and staff of this organization to make real and lasting contributions to the world’s first national park.”
The Yellowstone Association and the Yellowstone Park Foundation were blessed with remarkable leaders who effectively advanced their organization’s mission with passion and commitment. Both Karen Kress (YPF past president) and Jeff Brown (YA past executive director) were deeply involved in the decision to merge the two organizations, as they recognized the potential of a combined organization to have an even greater impact. They each made their retirement plans known early in the merger process and the boards of both organizations remain enormously grateful for their leadership over many years.
White, who starts on August 15 and will be based in Bozeman, will oversee the integration of the two organizations, including more than 70 year-round employees and 85 seasonal employees in two offices and 12 Park Stores in Montana and Wyoming, an annual budget of $20 million, more than 50,000 supporters, and an online community of more than 300,000 worldwide. The combined organization will eventually operate under a new name, to be announced after the merger closes. But the mission will remain unchanged: to connect people to Yellowstone National Park through outstanding visitor experiences and educational programs, and translate those experiences into lifelong support and philanthropic investment to conserve and enhance the park for the future.
Heather White’s bio is available here.
About the Yellowstone Park Foundation:
The Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF) has served as Yellowstone National Park’s official fundraising partner since 1996. Its mission is to fund important projects and programs that reflect the shared priorities to protect, preserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources as well as the visitor experience of the Park but are beyond the financial capacity of the National Park Service. YPF has raised more than $100 million, and funded more than 325 important projects and initiatives since 1996 that include wildlife research, cutthroat trout restoration, trail maintenance, and youth education.
About the Yellowstone Association:
Founded in 1933, the Yellowstone Association is the park’s nonprofit educational partner and has provided over $65 million in aid to Yellowstone National Park since its inception. The Association is the National Park Service’s primary partner in providing educational programs, exhibits, and publications for park visitors. Operations include 12 educational Park Stores with gross sales of $4.5 million, the YA Institute which offers nearly 600 in-depth courses each year, and a membership program with over 41,000 members. Revenue from sales and memberships allow the Association to make an annual cash donation to the National Park Service for education and research in Yellowstone.