Navigating times of change for the Partnership – by Karen Crossley

by Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director, Partnership for the National Trails System

Karen Crossley

Greetings from Madison, WI. I imagine many within the PNTS family and community have never visited the Partnership’s office—a light and airy second floor suite we share with an international microfinance organization. We are located downtown, just several blocks from the majestic Capitol Square and Lake Monona, one of the city’s five stunning, signature lakes.

I’m celebrating the first third of my nine-month engagement with PNTS, beginning my short-term service at the staff leadership helm on January 21, 2020. I’m learning a lot about our extraordinary National Trails System and the myriad dedicated people who support it. I feel especially grateful to have had the opportunity to meet in person and see at least some of you in action at Hike the Hill in February in Washington, D.C. Quite an extraordinary opening voyage for me!

Further applying the nautical metaphor, I feel the PNTS ship is sailing forward into an open water era and through choppy seas given the COVID-19 pandemic creating trauma and hardship for all. We’re all working together, guiding our boat into an uncertain future, with a new headquarters in Washington, D.C. later this year, where and when the possibilities for innovation, creativity, and reinvention seem boundless. Excitement, boldness, courage, fear, vulnerability, risk, and more might describe some of the feelings bubbling up among us, associated with this dramatic period of change for our organization and the challenging times we all face in the world. We must embrace this time and opportunity, as best we can, and continue working to achieve our shared vision for the National Trails System.

I encourage us to be guided by the words of John F. Kennedy: “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” As we sail on, the Partnership looks forward to advancing an established collection of programs and services, learning more about the value we’re delivering (are we on the right course and providing what you most need and want?) and seeking input and feedback about what we can do even better. Stay tuned, keep sailing with us, welcome and relish the journey. I feel honored to know you, work closely with you, and learn from you. Thank you for your commitment to PNTS.

Karen Crossley

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in Pathways Across America is public domain. All views expressed herein are perspectives of individuals working on behalf of the National Trails System and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Federal agencies.