Valerie Rupp named Executive Director of the Partnership for the National Trails System

The Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) has appointed Valerie C. Rupp of Baltimore, Maryland, to serve as the new Executive Director for the organization which represents 30 national scenic and historic trails.

Valerie currently is Corporate & Foundation Stewardship Director for Baltimore’s People & Parks Foundation. In nine years with the organization, she has served in progressively more responsible positions including Director of Community Greening and Community Grants Program Director.

She has focused on creative initiatives that catalyze neighborhood revitalization through forestry, green infrastructure, park and trail creation, and other projects. She has been leading an effort with Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks to develop its new partnership model to better support park stewardship and advocacy.

Valerie will assume the position of PNTS Executive Director effective August 17. She will succeed Gary Werner, who retired in February after nearly 30 years in the role, and Interim Executive Director Karen Crossley, who has served since Gary’s departure. Valerie will establish the Partnership’s new offices in Washington, D.C.

She was the unanimous choice of a Partnership search committee and the recommendation was approved by the PNTS Board of Directors.

“We believe that Ms. Rupp is an ideal fit for the organization,” said PNTS President Barney Scout Mann. “She has significant fundraising and administrative experience that will allow her to effectively address two significant and immediate needs of the Partnership. In addition, she brings promising skills and enthusiasm for increased community involvement and diversity within the Partnership and the greater trails community. She is experienced and passionate about working with diverse and underserved populations to make parks and trails accessible to all and to foster real community ownership.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with so many trail leaders in furthering the work of the trails community across the nation,” Valerie said. “It is a unique and interesting time for PNTS, with great opportunities to take intentional steps to achieve ambitious goals for some incredible organizations. I feel confident that my strategic and collaborative approach to leadership, my ability to raise and diversify funds and manage partnerships, and my experience in inclusive community engagement and communications will allow me to elevate the profile and impact of PNTS.”

Her hiring followed an 18-month search headed by a specially appointed Executive Director Transition Task Force chaired by Liz Bergeron, a former PNTS President and Executive Director & CEO of the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA). Other members of the task force included Christy Corzine, a former PNTS Board member and former PCTA Board member; Bill Martin, a member of the PNTS Trail Leaders Council (TLC) and past president of the Oregon-California Trails Association; Elizabeth Stewart, former PNTS Board and TLC representative for the Anza Trail Foundation; and Mike Wollmer, a PNTS Board member and TLC representative and Executive Director of the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Barney Mann served as an ex officio member.

Valerie holds twin Bachelor’s degrees in history and communications from Shippensburg University and a Master’s in public administration from the University of Baltimore, where she was selected the top graduate student for academic achievement and civic leadership. She also earned a Certificate in Volunteer Management from Carroll County Community College.

Prior to joining the Parks & People Foundation, she served as Development Director for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, as Development Associate for the Baltimore Museum of Industry, and Volunteer Coordinator for Volunteer Maryland, an AmeriCorps program. Valerie received a Governor’s Citation for mobilizing thousands of community volunteers through Volunteer Maryland.

At the Women’s Law Center, Valerie led marketing and communications including publications, and launched an organizational re-branding campaign while creating a fundraising culture. During her tenure at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, she increased major gifts to the annual fund by 300% and managed booking, scheduling, and staffing for 90,000 school visitors each year.

While at Parks & People, Valerie has led programs and projects with total annual budgets of $3 million and managed a staff of eight. She also secured more than $3 million in private and public grants and contracts and developed public and private partnerships to enhance diversity, inclusivity, and environmental justice in Baltimore. Valerie has experience in managing promotions and events, working with a variety of committees and teams, facilitating public stakeholder groups both for and with local and federal government, and developing and managing high-level projects and initiatives. She is frequently recruited as a collaborator or an investigator focused on partnership and engagement strategies for grant-funded, research projects led by premier universities and Federal agencies.

For more information about the Partnership, visit The mission of the Partnership is to “empower, inspire, and strengthen public and private partners to develop, preserve, promote, and sustain the national scenic and historic trails.”