Parks California

President and CEO

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Parks California welcomes Kindley Walsh Lawlor as its inaugural president and CEO.


The former vice president of the Gap Inc. Foundation, and before that, vice president of global sustainability at Gap Inc., Lawlor will lead Parks California as it partners with the state Department of Parks and Recreation, philanthropies, corporations, community groups, and other organizations to expand park programs, amenities, and resources. Launched in June with a five-member board of directors, Parks California’s mission is to ensure the protected lands of California remain resilient while meeting the evolving, lifelong needs of visitors. It seeks to raise new resources and expertise in support of state, regional, local, and federal parks.

Lawlor, of San Francisco, led human rights and environmental efforts during her 20-plus year career at Gap Inc. A well-respected collaborator and designer of multi-stakeholder solutions, she has extensive experience navigating complex issues and building teams. At Gap Inc., she most recently led the Personal Advancement Career Enhancement program, one of the Foundation’s signature programs, focused on educating and empowering women globally. The program is expected to reach one million women by the end of 2020.

“Parks California can be the crucial partner that complements, amplifies, and elevates good work for parks across the state,” said Lawlor. “My goal is to bring funding, creativity, and momentum that accelerates efforts to protect our parks and improve them for the next generation.”

Dr. Steven Lockhart, chair of the Parks California Board of Directors and chief medical officer for Sutter Health, welcomed Lawlor and her leadership. “Kindley brings great skill to Parks California,” said Lockhart. “She’s an innovator with a unique perspective on partnerships and a commitment to the public spaces Californians love and need, from neighborhood playsets to world-renown landscapes. The board and I are happy she’s joined our team and ready to get to work together.”

Rachel Norton, executive director of the California State Parks Foundation, also welcomed the milestone at Parks California. A member-supported nonprofit, the 49-year-old Foundation is dedicated to a vision of a state park system that is accessible, equitable, and excellent. “Good parks need good partners,” said Norton. “Kindley brings unique experience from a corporate setting to the parks world and our shared goal—resilient, welcoming parks—and we look forward to working with her.”

The creation last summer of Parks California fulfilled the recommendation of the Parks Forward Commission to develop a new nonprofit parks support organization to bring resources and expertise not otherwise available to support all California parks. In 2016, the Legislature passed and the governor authorized the Department of Parks and Recreation to work with a park support organization to bring expertise and resources, provide services, and advance projects that otherwise are not readily available to parks. Parks California will fill that role. Parks California was established as a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. Initial seed funding and staff support to launch Parks California was provided by donors including the foundations of S.D. Bechtel, Jr., David and Lucile Packard, William and Flora Hewlett, and Resources Legacy Fund.

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