The Partnership is now anchored in Washington, D.C.

by Valerie Rupp, Executive Director, Partnership for the National Trails System


It is an honor for me to write my first message for Pathways Across America as the Executive Director of the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS). This issue of Pathways marks an important milestone as the first issue published from the new PNTS headquarters. 

PNTS realized its long-envisioned goal of relocation to Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2020. We are now anchored in our nation’s capital, providing us with more convenient access to partner agencies, decision-makers, and peer organizations. This move is logistically and symbolically important, and one that many Partnership stakeholders have worked hard to achieve.

Over the last several months, people across the U.S. have been turning to public lands and natural areas near and far in record numbers for recreation, respite, discovery, and as places to safely socialize during a pandemic. This attention upon public lands provides us with an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of our National Trails System, to more deeply engage with partners, allies, and advocates, and to welcome new trail users. 

Simultaneously, our elected officials acknowledged the extraordinary value of our precious public lands with the recent signing of the Great American Outdoors Act. At this time of tremendous opportunity, PNTS is poised to work with its members, partners, friends, and emerging stakeholders to advance the interests of the National Trails System and trail organizations as we seek to realize our vision of “creating a world-class system of national scenic and historic trails that preserves natural and cultural values and provides recreational benefits for all.”  

As PNTS enjoys a fortuitous and exciting time, I’d like to acknowledge several remarkable individuals who provided critical leadership over the last several months. Karen Crossley, Interim Executive Director, skillfully steered the organization through complex challenges, most notably taking the reins following PNTS founder Gary Werner’s retirement and managing the logistics of the PNTS move from Madison, WI to Washington, D.C. Kathy DeCoster, Interim Advocacy and Policy Director, brought together and elevated the voices of the PNTS community at a key time leading up to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act. In addition, core team members, Samantha Haas and Liz Wessel, stepped up to advance PNTS’ programs and services during the recent highly unusual period of transition. Their collective dedication and work will have lasting impacts upon PNTS. I hope you will join me in thanking them for sharing their talents, and in wishing Karen and Kathy well on their next adventures.

While I am just beginning my tenure with PNTS, I’m impressed and invigorated by the committed members of the PNTS community I’ve had the privilege to meet to date. It is evident to me that the National Trails System continues to grow and thrive because of the talented and passionate people supporting it. I look forward to getting to know many more of you in the coming weeks and months as PNTS moves into this exciting new chapter of the organization’s story and settles into its new headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

Yours in partnership,

Valerie Rupp

Contact PNTS Executive Director Valerie Rupp: (443) 961-1150


Partnership for the National Trails System
1615 M Street NW, Second Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036
Office Phone: (202) 963-2910

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.