A time of accelerated change for the Partnership – by Karen Crossley

Karen Crossley

The Partnership for the National Trails System continues to sail forward amidst stormy seas. We face myriad uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as societal unrest and upheaval associated with recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement. We are paying attention. And PNTS programs and services are being assessed and adapted in response to current conditions and circumstances. For example, we regrettably felt it necessary to cancel the Spring Workshop scheduled for May 2020 at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. And we have chosen to offer a multiday, virtual Fall Workshop in October 2020, instead of the in-person event originally scheduled to be held in Spartanburg, S.C. 

Planning is well underway for the virtual Fall Workshop that promises to be distinctive and like none other hosted by the Partnership in the past. High value, meaningful content will be presented, contemporary topical offerings will be highlighted, and interactive engagement sessions are on the agenda. Unexpected disruption offers us an opportunity for innovation, experimentation, and learning. We are seizing this moment and feeling excited about what lies ahead.

As noted earlier, sustaining the Partnership’s signature programs and services, despite the remote and virtual environment in which we’ve all been living since March, has not always been easy. Nevertheless, resulting from the extraordinary commitment of staff, contractors, the PNTS Board of Directors and Trail Leaders Council, other volunteers, and partners, we’ve pressed on. Proud accomplishments include the following activities: Advocacy, particularly at the Federal level (see Kathy DeCoster’s message); communications across multiple platforms; varied opportunities for learning and training on contemporary issues of shared interest; support of youth interns; and trail corridor protection. We are committed to providing to our members the services they value, and to supporting the trails community and National Trails System network, even during these highly unusual times. The beat goes on. 

In addition, now well into the second half of my engagement serving as Interim Executive Director, I’m finding that my attention and efforts increasingly are focused upon preparing to welcome my successor, strengthening the organizational infrastructure and daily operation to help position the new Executive Director for success, and moving the PNTS office to Washington, D.C. (see Barney Mann’s message). A monumental transition within the Partnership organization is occurring on our stage, and I feel honored to be playing a tiny role in this particular scene. Let the show go on with vigor and promise for exciting acts ahead! Thank you for your support. We’re truly grateful.  

Karen Crossley
Interim Executive Director, PNTS