BUFFALO, NY Nov. 4, 2014 – The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Board of Trustees has accepted the resignation of president and CEO Thomas Herrera-Mishler so he can seek new career opportunities.
The board named Stephanie Crockatt, the conservancy’s current senior director of institutional advancement, interim CEO and announced a national search will be undertaken to replace Herrera-Mishler.
“Thomas elevated the care and quality of Buffalo’s parks during his seven-year tenure and will always be recognized as a national leader in the stewardship of Frederick Law Olmsted’s parks,” said Kevin Kelly, the conservancy’s board chair. “We wish Thomas well in his future endeavors.”
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first non-profit organization nationally to manage and operate an entire historic urban park system. It consists of 850 acres of beautifully designed parkland, parkways and circles. The conservancy, in partnership with the City of Buffalo, is a not-for-profit, membership-based, community organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance, and maintain the Olmsted-designed parks and parkways in the Buffalo area.
More than 2.5 million people use Buffalo’s award-winning Olmsted Parks annually. The parks include Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Riverside Park and South Park, as well as their adjoining parkways and circles that weave throughout Buffalo.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed leading this special Olmsted organization and working with so many great people to make this urban parks system the best it can be,” Herrera-Mishler said. “I look forward to taking my experiences in Buffalo and applying them to a new challenge.”
The leadership change comes in the wake of the Oct. 1 announcement that the American Planning Association designated Delaware Park as one of its 2014 Great Places in America.
“Thomas has been a great friend to the parks and a strong advocate for their growth and support,” said Mayor Byron Brown. “The City of Buffalo is a major partner of the conservancy, contributing $1.2 million annually, along with additional personnel, funding for critical infrastructure repairs, utilities and more.”
“Approximately $20 million in capital funding has also been secured by the city since 2006 for improvements to the historic Olmsted system,” Brown added.
Since 2008, Herrera-Mishler has assisted the conservancy in raising more than $6 million for additional capital improvement projects, complementing the city’s investment toward the implementation of the park system’s visionary master plan, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Plan for the 21st Century.
Herrera-Mishler serves on the boards of the Richardson Olmsted Development Corp.; the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, as ex officio; and the National Association of Olmsted Parks. He is a founding board member of the Western New York Environmental Alliance. He was named Preservation Hero 2013 by the Library of American Historic Landscapes and was awarded the 2014 Gold Leaf Award by the New York State Arborists Association and the 2014 Outstanding Citizen Award by the United Cultural Society, Ltd. in Buffalo, NY.
Herrera-Mishler took over the conservancy’s leadership in 2008 and moved to Buffalo from Wellesley, MA, where he served as executive director of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. There he was responsible for nearly doubling membership to 5,000; helping restore the society’s Olmsted-designed headquarters estate grounds; and creating major improvements to the Annual Flower show, the largest annual cultural event in the Northeast.
Mexican-born, Herrera-Mishler obtained his Master of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Urban Design Specialization, from the University of Michigan in 1986. He earned his B.A. in Spanish Language and Literature with a minor in Business Administration from Eastern Michigan University in 1982.
While studying landscape architecture, Herrera-Mishler grew to admire Olmsted, the iconic designer of urban parks, including Central Park in Manhattan and parks in major cities across the country, including Chicago and Louisville. Buffalo’s Olmsted system was designed beginning in 1868 and is on the Register of National Historic Places.
Herrera-Mishler’s portfolio includes the master plan for the National Zoo and Botanical Garden of Costa Rica. After serving as landscape architect on various projects around the United States and internationally, he moved into the non-profit sector in 1992, working as the community landscape architect for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in Philadelphia. He later served as executive director of Philadelphia’s Awbury Arboretum & Historic Estate; executive director of the Toledo Botanical Garden; and director of Arlie Gardens in Wilmington, N.C.
Crockatt joined the conservancy in June, following seven years as director of external affairs for the University of Georgia College of Environment & Design starting in 2007. Prior to that, she was president and executive director of the LPGA Tournament Owners Association from 1999 to 2007. For five years, she served as tournament co-director for the LPGA Oldsmobile Classic, played at Walnut Hills Country Club in East Lansing, MI.
Crockatt holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with a focus in golf course design, and a Master of Parks and Recreation both from Michigan State University.
About the Olmsted Parks Conservancy
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is the first nonprofit organization in the nation to manage and operate an entire historic urban park system that consists of 850 acres of beautifully designed parks, parkways and circles. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is a not-for-profit, membership-based, community organization whose mission is to promote, preserve, restore, enhance, and maintain the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks and parkways in the Greater Buffalo area for current and future generations. More than 2.5 million people use Buffalo’s historic, award-winning Olmsted Park System annually for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation. Buffalo’s Olmsted System includes the popular urban green spaces: Cazenovia Park, Delaware Park, Front Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Park, Riverside Park and South Park as well as their adjoining parkways and circles which weave throughout the city of Buffalo. The parks were designed by America’s first landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted more than 145 years ago. Olmsted designed parks in nearly every major city in the country. However, his work in Buffalo – the first park and parkway system designed and built in the U.S. – is considered his very best. Basic maintenance of the parks has been greatly improved with universal respect and admiration for the work that the Conservancy has accomplished over the past six years since the 2004 groundbreaking agreement with the City of Buffalo and Erie County. Since that time, the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, now partnering with the city of Buffalo, has retained full responsibility for the management and maintenance of these green spaces which are listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Park maintenance including turf care, litter pickup and trash removal, graffiti clean-up, tree, shrub and flower plantings and pruning are managed year round in a professional and competent manner by Olmsted staff and thousands of dedicated volunteers. In 2008, the Conservancy adopted the Plan for the 21st Century, the comprehensive blueprint necessary to restore the parks to Olmsted’s original vision while expanding and completing the system as originally conceived, a “city within a park.” The plan calls for systematic reinvestment in the parks over time with 300 capital projects providing a new investment in Buffalo’s historic parks and parkways. Most recently, the American Planning Association recognized Delaware Park as one of the 2014 Great Places in America. Our main office is located at the Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park.