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Yosemite Conservancy Names Frank Dean as President & CEO

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avatar Yosemite Conservancy Names Frank Dean as President & CEO
February 05, 2015 11:21AM
San Francisco, Calif., February 4, 2015 – Yosemite Conservancy today announced Frank Dean as its new president and CEO to lead its efforts to inspire donor support that provides for Yosemite National Park’s future. Dean joins the Conservancy after nearly six successful years as superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) and brings with him vast experience from top-level National Park Service positions in Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore and Saratoga National Historical Park.

“Frank has a deep understanding of and passion for Yosemite. His effectiveness with the National Park Service, park partners and nonprofit donor organizations, and familiarity with Yosemite Conservancy, made him an ideal choice to build upon the positive momentum generated over the years to provide support to Yosemite,” said Philip L. Pillsbury, Jr., Yosemite Conservancy board chair.

Dean will be retiring from the National Park Service at the end of February. His position at the Conservancy marks a return to his Yosemite roots. He served in Yosemite National Park as a park ranger, and from 1990-1995 was management assistant to the superintendent and the primary National Park Service contact on Yosemite Conservancy projects.

“My positive experiences working with nonprofit park partners excited me about this new opportunity. Yosemite Conservancy is an exceptional organization whose success and donor support is grounded in a genuine passion to provide for the park’s future. My primary goal will be to set a course for continued success of the organization’s mission to preserve and protect Yosemite and enhance the visitor experience,” said Dean, who will begin work at the Conservancy in early March. “My first visit to Yosemite inspired a lifetime dedicated to conservation. This amazing opportunity with the Conservancy bookends my career in the park.”

Since 2009, Dean has directed operations and coordinated with partner organizations at the highly regarded GGNRA in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the largest national parks in an urban area that includes renowned visitor destinations like Muir Woods, Alcatraz Island, Marin Headlands and Crissy Field. He worked hand-in-hand with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the Presidio Trust to conserve and improve the GGNRA. Among his many accomplishments, Dean fostered an innovative partnership with the Golden Gate Bridge District and Parks Conservancy to provide modern visitor facilities at the iconic bridge, initiated a new partnership to protect the Mt. Tamalpais ecosystem and established a major capital program to preserve facilities on Alcatraz. Prior to serving at GGNRA, he was superintendent of Saratoga National Historical Park and assistant superintendent at Point Reyes National Seashore.

“I had the pleasure of working with Frank in Point Reyes and I’m excited to partner with him on the Conservancy’s efforts to support Yosemite,” said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher.

Dean follows Mike Tollefson, who has stepped down after six years of great success as president and CEO of the Conservancy. Tollefson will work with Dean to facilitate a smooth transition. “Frank is a great choice to lead the Conservancy and to work with the National Park Service, donors, and many others to support the park in the years ahead,” said Tollefson, who joined Yosemite Conservancy in 2009 after serving as superintendent of Yosemite National Park since 2003.

Tollefson leaves the Conservancy stronger than ever after increasing the organization’s donor base by 60 percent, improving annual support to Yosemite from $5.8 million in 2009 to $10.5 million in 2014, and raising nearly $20 million for the project to restore the Mariposa Grove. Pillsbury, Jr. said Tollefson was, “a major force and inspiring leader behind the extraordinary growth and continuing success of Yosemite Conservancy.”

Though support of donors, the nonprofit Yosemite Conservancy has provided more than $92 million in grants to Yosemite National Park for nearly 500 completed projects. In 2015, the Conservancy will complete $20 million in fundraising for the project to restore Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. Also new for 2015, the Conservancy will fund 41 new project grants. The grants include: trail and habitat restoration projects; wildlife management and protection programs involving Yosemite’s bears, songbirds, great gray owls; Youth in Yosemite programs that inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, teach kids about nature and improve leadership, literacy and life skills. In addition to annual project grants, the Conservancy provides ongoing in-park experiences such as art, theater and Outdoor Adventures programs, along with volunteer opportunities and bookstores that help visitors forge deeper connections to the park.

The selection of Dean culminated a national search conducted by the Conservancy’s search committee and approval by its Board of Trustees.
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