Carol Ash, Vice Chair, Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Carol served as commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation where she led the agency’s efforts to restore and develop infrastructure within the state’s 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. Carol also led efforts to restore and create New York’s Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park – the world’s longest, elevated pedestrian bridge. A staunch advocate of environmental issues, Carol currently serves as Vice Chair of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. She was previously New York State Director of The Nature Conservancy, Director of the Office of Environmental Policy for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Regional Director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and was on the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy board. In addition, Carol co-founded the Alliance for New York State Parks, an Open Space Institute (OSI) initiative, to protect and improve New York’s state parks and historic sites. She is a current board member of OSI and Environmental Advocates.
Holly Leicht, EVP, Real Estate Development and Planning, Empire State Development
Holly joined the Empire State Development Corporation in 2017 after serving as Regional Administrator for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she oversaw New York and New Jersey, including Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts. Before joining HUD, she was Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks, a non-profit that advocates for parks and open spaces in New York City. She previously served as Deputy Commissioner at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she oversaw Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan that built and preserved 165,000 units of affordable housing.
Steve Dunlop, Chief Executive, Scottish Canals
Steve is Chief Executive of Scottish Canals, a public corporation responsible for the restoration and renewal of Scotland’s 137 mile canal network, which includes two of the nation’s most iconic tourist attractions – The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies. Over the last decade, Steve has become a leading public sector entrepreneur, expertly guiding Scottish Canals through a renaissance with a new vision for the nation’s 250 year old inland waterways, asking not what the canals are for but who they are for. He has re-imagined these important industrial assets as corridors of opportunity which greatly benefit the people and economy of Scotland today. Also a member of the VisitScotland Board, previously Steve was Director of Regeneration for Newcastle City Council and, prior to that, held a Directorship at Falkirk Council.
Darlene Upton, Vice President of Strategic Policy and Investment, Parks Canada
Darlene has been with Parks Canada for 21 years in various roles. In 2012 she was appointed as the Agency’s first Waterways Executive Director and in 2016 this role expanded to also include the 5 national parks, 1 national urban park, 31 historic sites and 2 marine conservation areas in Ontario, in addition to the historic waterways in Quebec and Ontario. In that role, Darlene was responsible for developing innovative approaches to address the unique challenges of managing heritage canals. She works with multiple levels of government, business and hydro, boating and tourism industry partners. In 2015 she was awarded the Gord Blake Visionary Award for leadership in the marine industry in Ontario. Currently Darlene is responsible for leadership in strategic policy development and investment across the national portfolio of heritage places managed by the Parks Canada Agency.
Richard M. Larrabee, former Director of the Port Commerce Department, PANYNJ
Richard M. Larrabee retired in 2015 from his post as the Director of the Port Commerce Department of The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this role, he oversaw the management and operation of the major marine terminal facilities within the Port of New York and New Jersey and managed a multi-billion-dollar port redevelopment program that included reinvestment in marine terminal facilities, deepening harbor channels and berths, and improving intermodal connections. Prior to joining the Port Authority, Richard held the rank of Rear Admiral in the United States Coast Guard.
Hugh O’Neill, President, Appleseed
As founder and president of Appleseed, Hugh has provided socioeconomic research and analysis and economic development planning services to a wide range of government, institutional, non-profit and corporate clients. Prior to founding Appleseed, Hugh was Assistant Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where his responsibilities included management of the Authority’s annual business planning and capital planning processes, and the development of major new business initiatives such as the restoration of Trans-Hudson ferry services. From 1979 through 1985, he served as Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Economic Development under New York State Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. He also served as Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Department of Social Services from 1975 through 1978.
Mia Lehrer, Founder and President, Studio-MLA
Mia Lehrer founded Mia Lehrer and Associates (now Studio-MLA) with a vision to improve quality of life through landscape. She has led her studio in the design and implementation of ambitious public and private projects including the Hollywood Park Racetrack redevelopment and its new LA NFL Stadium, the LA County Natural History Museum Gardens, Vista Hermosa Natural Park, and many Los Angeles River-related projects. Mia is internationally recognized for progressive landscape design, advocacy for sustainable and people-friendly public places, and catalyzing work for a climate-appropriate future. She earned her Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and lectures and teaches around the world. Among recent accomplishments, she serves on Obama’s Fine Arts Commission and was honored with ASLA’s LaGasse Medal.