The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) board of directors has appointed Ronald J. Tipton as the new executive director/CEO who will lead the organization beginning in late August.
Tipton has spent most of the past 30 years as an advocate for public land preservation and national park protection. A graduate of George Washington University with an undergraduate degree in American Studies and a law degree from GW’s National Law Center, Tipton first worked as a program officer at the National Academy of Sciences and on the oversight/investigative staff of the House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Since 1978 he has been a part of the advocacy and/or management team of four non-profit national conservation organizations: The Wilderness Society, National Audubon Society, World Wildlife Fund, and National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).
Tipton was the senior vice president for programs for NPCA from 2000-2008, when he became the senior vice president for policy. Currently, he is focused on expanding the number of national park units to increase the natural and cultural diversity of the park system as the country approaches the 2016 Centennial celebration of the National Park Service.
Bob Almand, chair of the board of directors for the ATC, stated, “Ron has the passion, management experience, and advocacy skills that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is looking for, plus a strong connection to the Appalachian Trail and the Trail community. His high standards and experience will help move the organization forward to serve the next generation of Trail users.”
Tipton is the recent past President of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington, an organization founded and supported by Episcopal parishes in the DC metropolitan area that provides counseling to individuals in need that want to improve their lives. He has been a member of the board or governing council of numerous recreation and trails organizations, including the ATC, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association.
Tipton has been married for 34 years to Rita Molyneaux and has a son who is a firefighter. In 1978 he walked the entire length of the Trail.
“I feel incredibly privileged and honored to be asked to be Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s executive director/CEO. Since I hiked the Trail I have served as a volunteer for more than 25 years with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and helped found the Appalachian Long Distance Hiker’s Association”, stated Tipton. “I am especially proud of working with people like Ed Garvey and former ATC executive director David Startzell to secure permanent protection through public ownership of the Appalachian Trail corridor from Georgia to Maine.”
Tipton enters the ATC at a time of growth and an expanding agenda for preserving the rich natural and cultural resources along the Trail corridor. The ATC currently has over 43,000 members, a vast network of over 6,000 volunteers, and an operating budget of $7.3 million.
As a volunteer-based organization whose mission is “to preserve and manage the Trail ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come”. The ATC is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting and promoting the world’s most famous long-distance hiking Trail, providing outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for Trail visitors.
Founded in 1925, the ATC is a 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and has regional offices in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. The ATC is both a confederation of 31 local Trail-maintaining clubs, with assignments to maintain the Trail, and a membership organization with support from all 50 states and more than 15 foreign countries. Under agreements that date back to the 1930s, buttressed by federal legislation, the ATC leads a cooperative management system for the Trail in close cooperation with federal, state and local agencies and Trail-maintaining clubs.
Given the Trail’s historic legacy of volunteerism, many of the ATC’s programs are focused on supporting and encouraging volunteers. Some of the key activities and initiatives include Trail management and support, conservation, advocacy, and environmental monitoring and research. Some of the ATC’s new initiatives include the Trail to Every Classroom and the Appalachian Trail Community program.
The Appalachian Trail (A.T.) is a unit of the National Park System, stretching from Georgia to Maine, at approximately 2,180 miles in length. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about 2 to 3 million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.