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Conservancy Executive Director Tina Sullivan to step down

Tina Sullivan leads a mindfulness walk in the Old ForestAfter twelve years at the helm of Overton Park Conservancy, executive director Tina Sullivan has announced her plan to transition out of the role once a successor has been brought on board.

Under Sullivan’s leadership, Overton Park has been restored as the crown jewel of the Memphis park system, and has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, counting 1.5 million visitors per year. In addition to critical improvements to park operations and maintenance, the Conservancy has executed several capital improvement projects, most recently including the $4M renovation of the Overton Park 9 Golf Course and Abe Goodman Golf Clubhouse, undertaken in partnership with the City of Memphis.

With a focus on conservation, Sullivan and the Conservancy prioritized the 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area as a key component of the Conservancy’s mission. The organization has conducted research, removed invasive plants, renovated and maintained trails, installed welcoming entrances designed by local artists, and launched a robust schedule of nature-based programming, with many of these achievements coming about collaboratively through the active role of park volunteers and supporters.

“Having the task of connecting people to nature has been deeply rewarding,” said Sullivan, “Something magical happens when people come to Overton Park and experience its unique beauty and welcoming culture. People from different backgrounds form bonds around their love of this place. The park’s diverse community is vibrant and thriving, and that strength is what will protect this place for future generations.”

Throughout her tenure, Tina worked with the Memphis Zoo and the City of Memphis to develop alternatives to the three-decade-long practice of parking cars on the park’s Greensward.  “Tina’s patient leadership during that tenuous period kept everyone at the negotiating table until the best possible solution could be found,” said board chair Yancy Villa. This negotiation resulted in a solution that will permanently end Greensward parking when work has been completed, and it will also bring additional acres of old-growth forest under the Conservancy’s management. A portion of the City’s maintenance area in the southeast corner of the park will also soon be added to the Conservancy’s managed area.

“With the park thriving and the Conservancy in a steady-but-growing position, this is the opportune time to relinquish the captain’s seat. We’re in a moment of calm before the next growth phase, which gives the board some freedom to spend time recruiting the best possible leader,” said Sullivan.

“Tina has been the right leader at the right time for Overton Park Conservancy. From its inception to today, she has led the Conservancy with integrity, tenacity, and passion. The board of directors is infinitely grateful for Tina’s devotion to the park and our city, “ said Villa.