Forest Park Forever Bestows 2014 Keeper of the Park Awards, Elects New Directors to Its Board

Annual Awards Luncheon & Community Address — attended by Mayor Slay, Park institution directors and key organizational leaders — offers an opportunity to celebrate, look back and preview the path forward

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 4, 2014 – Forest Park Forever (FPF) has elected seven new members to its Board of Directors and recognized four individuals with its prestigious Kathryn Nelson Keeper of the Park Award. The selections were announced at the organization’s s annual Keeper of the Park Awards Luncheon & Community Address, held on January 27 at the Park’s Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center.

The event was attended by nearly 200 members of the Forest Park Forever staff and volunteer community, along with City officials and partners from Forest Park cultural institutions. It began with the introduction of the newest members of FPF’s Board of Directors, who were elected in a voting Board meeting earlier that morning. These Board members are: 

  • Anne O’Connell Albrecht: Community Leader
  • Jacob A. Herschend: Risk Management Advisor, J.W. Terrill
  • Brian Hogan: President, Hogan Truck Leasing, Inc.
  • Carol Swartout Klein: Community Leader
  • Erika Z. Schenk: Senior Counsel – Special Projects, The Boeing Company
  • Paul Shaughnessy: President & Chief Executive Officer, BSI Constructors, Inc. 
  • Larry Thomas: Principal, Financial Advisor Talent Acquisition, Edward Jones

Following lunch, Mayor Francis Slay provided opening remarks, noting the important role Forest Park plays in St. Louis’ great quality of life and the strong partnership the City has with Forest Park Forever. The Mayor highlighted the recently published St. Louis Post Dispatch article “Anchors and Transit Spur Growth of St. Louis Corridor,” which demonstrated how essential the Park and its destinations are to city growth. 

Forest Park Forever Board Chairman Steve Finerty then announced the 2014 Kathryn Nelson Keeper of the Park Awards, which since 2002 have recognized individuals or organizations that have demonstrated exceptional energy and creativity for the benefit of Forest Park. The annual awards are named for the late Kathryn Nelson, who co-chaired the Forest Park Master Planning process and served on FPF’s Board of Directors. The 2014 award recipients are: 

  • Deborah Dolgin: During her time serving on both the FPF Board of Directors and the Forest Park Advisory Board, Deborah has shown true leadership in her role as Park steward. Her Board service spans from 1991 – 2002 and includes a role as Vice President; since 2008, Deborah has served as Director Emeritus. In her work on the Advisory Board — including time as President — she has been especially thoughtful and effective in ensuring that the Park serves diverse audiences. 
     
  • Sue Fisher: Since 2004, Sue has used her 25-plus years of professional design experience — with Ralston Purina, FleishmanHillard and Hartman Design — to craft FPF materials of all kinds, from Annual Reports to the Visitor’s Guide, used by more than 40,000 Park visitors each year.
     
  • John Miller: John is responsible for erecting and maintaining 70 purple martin habitats in Forest Park and the sole reason the Park is believed to shelter the largest urban population of martins in North America. He leads seminars and chaperoned nature tours designed to introduce the general public to the purple martin.
     
  • Jim Wilson: Since fall 2002, Jim has served as the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor for Experiential and Family Education at the University of Missouri – St. Louis. In this role, he has collaborated extensively with Forest Park Forever, fostering environmental education for and with the Park’s partner institutions, the Missouri Department of Conservation, K-12 teachers and young students from urban areas, inspiring all of them to use the Park to bring nature and ecology alive inside and outside the classroom.

For the first time this year, attendees to this special event had the opportunity to hear from leaders of the Park’s cultural institutions, who spoke about their plans for 2014 and about the partnerships here in the Park. Attendees heard from:

  • Brent Benjamin, Director, Saint Louis Art Museum 
  • Dr. Eric Miller, Senior Vice President, Zoological Operations and Director, WildCare Institute, St. Louis Zoo
  • Karen M. Goering, Managing Director of Operations, Missouri History Museum 
  • Denny Reagan, President and CEO, The Muny 
  • Bert Vescolani, President and CEO, St. Louis Science Center

For the final segment of the meeting, Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth walked attendees through a recap of the organization’s key 2013 accomplishments, including:

  • Welcoming more than 13 million visitors to a Park that is beautiful, well maintained and welcoming to all 
  • Raising a record $350,000+ to help care for the Park at the Hiram W. Leffingwell "Hat" Luncheon
  • Achieving a 5% annual increase in the number of FPF volunteers (nearly 1,200) and the number of hours they put in across the Park (more than 11,500, which has a monetary value of $256,000) 
  • Continuing key educational programs — such as the Voyage of Learning Teachers’ Academy (which has impacted 70,000 students since its founding) and the Summer Youth Experience — as well as founding and leading a new Forest Park Educational Collaborative
  • Establishing a strong new agreement with the City of St. Louis, which secures 30 years of funding and maintenance for the Park and removes uncertainty about year-to-year funding and helps facilitate the next round of needed capital projects
  • Helping carry 71,000+ riders on the Forest Park Trolley, in collaboration with Metro Transit, the Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo and the City Parks Department
  • Completing a $900,000 restoration of the St. Louis Mounted Police Horse Stables, which are now open again — increasing the police presence in the Park — after having been vacant since 2009
  • Partnering with stl250 and Fair Saint Louis leaders to help plan for successful, safe community events in the Park in 2014 
  • Completing critical ongoing Park maintenance, including planting 40,000 bulbs in the fall and 13,000 annuals in the spring, as well as planting 400 trees and pruning 2,500 others.

To close, Hoffarth provided a preview of select 2014 initiatives and capital projects, each of which Forest Park Forever looks forward to introducing to the greater St. Louis community throughout the year. 

“Having just completed a very productive 2013, the Forest Park Forever team is excited about what’s planned for this coming year,” Hoffarth said. “We know that with the continued support of our members, donors, volunteers and City and Park partners, 2014 will be a remarkable year for the organization — and for the great civic treasure that is Forest Park.”

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For more information, contact:
Stephen Schenkenberg, Forest Park Forever
(314) 561-3448, sschenkenberg@forestparkforever.org