The Overton Park Conservancy board has approved the search committee’s recommendation to hire Tina Sullivan to replace the organization’s first acting executive director George Cates. Chaired by board member Ray Pohlman, the committee chose Ms. Sullivan to be the permanent Executive Director for the relatively new public nonprofit organization, which has a ten-year park management agreement with the city of Memphis to improve Overton Park and Old Forest SNA. Officially, Ms. Sullivan takes over OPC’s lead position on May 1.
Ms. Sullivan, a certified grants manager, earned her BA in Communication from the University of Memphis in 2003 and is currently in the university’s MPA program. During the five years that Ms. Sullivan worked for the San Diego, CA Unified Port District, she managed a $33 million grants portfolio and helped secure $6 million in grant funding.
“Tina is an OPC volunteer, serves on the Citizens to Preserve Overton Park Board and she has park conservancy experience. We believe that she’ll be able to transition swiftly and without difficulty into OPC’s staff leadership role,” said Pohlman. Also serving on the board’s Ad hoc search committee was board chairman Gary Shorb, Belinda Anderson, George Cates, Diane Rudner and Gail Schledwitz.
“Overton Park has been passionately supported by the citizens of Memphis, and represents to me our city’s unique culture and sense of community,” said Tina Sullivan. “The board and staff of the Conservancy have begun their work in earnest, and I am honored to be joining the team.”
Since the Memphis City Council sanctioned OPC at the end of 2011, George Cates – volunteer acting executive director — and his team have delivered on several promises to clean and fix-up the historical green space anchored by the Memphis City Zoo, Brooks Museum, Memphis College of Art, Levitt Shell and the golf course.
“George’s push for a private-public park management organization as a real-world solution to restoring Overton Park, given the recent funding shortages that have forced numerous public services to be resized, really piqued the Mayor’s (Wharton) interest,” said Gary Shorb. “As soon as the legal work to make OPC official was completed, George staffed the organization all the while raising millions in multi-year donor pledges, cash and contributions in-kind to fund planned improvement projects,” Shorb said. “Were it not for his leadership and vision and love for Overton Park, the construction of Overton Bark, rebuilding the playground and educational tours for kids and lots more might not be happening.” Gary Shorb is CEO of Methodist Healthcare and OPC’s initial Board chairman.
Former OPC acting director George Cates will continue to serve on the organization’s board of directors and will help new Executive Director Tina Sullivan to nurture relationships with Overton Park sponsors, donors and partners.