September 20, 2016
New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), the citywide advocate for parks and open space, today announced that its Board of Directors has named Lynn B. Kelly as the organization’s new Executive Director. Kelly is currently the CEO and President of Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden in Staten Island, a role which she has held since 2010. She officially starts on December 1 and will succeed outgoing Executive Director Tupper Thomas, who announced her plans to retire earlier this year.
“We are thrilled to welcome Lynn Kelly to New Yorkers for Parks,” said Joel Steinhaus, Chairman of New Yorkers for Parks. “NY4P has evolved over the past century to fit the context of our city. Today, pressures of density, affordability and equity make sufficient investment in our parks and open spaces complicated and challenging. Now, more than ever, our city needs a strong advocate for open space, and we believe Lynn can be that voice.”
“As a lifelong New Yorker, and native of Staten Island, I have always wanted to make this city better for all New Yorkers,” said Kelly. “This opportunity allows me to use my varied experiences, skills and networks to build a stronger case for parks and open space. Parks and open space are essential urban infrastructure, and we have to start talking about this issue through that lens, including health, economic development, and social justice.”
Combining strong business acumen and public sector experience with a passion for helping to strengthen her community and New York City, Kelly led the revitalization of Snug Harbor over the past six years. Most recently, she successfully led the charge to increase baseline operational funding for the institution in the city budget, while also executing a master agreement with the city – something which had not been accomplished in over a decade.
Snug Harbor, a distinguished Smithsonian affiliate, provides programming in horticulture, agriculture and the visual and performing arts, and attracts over 500,000 visitors to its 83-acre Staten Island campus annually. Today, Kelly oversees the operational and managerial needs of this nationally recognized site, which is comprised of 26 buildings (five of which are historical landmarks), 350,000 square feet of space, two and a half miles of roads, a two and a half-acre farm, and eight diverse botanical gardens.
“I am very pleased that Lynn has agreed to join this important organization,” said Thomas. “As someone who has devoted her career to working to improve our parks and open spaces, I am so encouraged NY4P was able to find someone like Lynn. She understands the critical importance of these issues to the success of our city, and I look forward to helping her transition into leading the organization.”
Prior to Snug Harbor, Kelly worked as a Senior Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). During the last three of her ten years at the NYCEDC, she also served as the President of the Coney Island Development Corporation. Kelly led the redevelopment of Coney Island, establishing the first ground-up amusement park in more than 50 years from start-to-finish in 100 days, a feat which illustrates her efficient and results-oriented leadership style. Because of her work, an amusement ride, Lynn’s Trapeze, was named after her at Coney Island’s Luna Park in 2010.
A tireless champion of her city’s causes, Kelly has a demonstrated facility with navigating the intricacies of New York City government and has skillfully developed relationships with various constituencies – from lawmakers to artists to business groups, governmental and quasi-governmental agencies, and civic and community stakeholders. Her dedication to public service has been evident throughout her impressive career, which began when she was a graduate student and served as Deputy Director of the Art Commission of the City of New York, in City Hall.
Kelly received a B.A. in Metropolitan Studies from New York University’s College of Arts and Sciences and a Master of Public Administration in public policy from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of NYC & Co., where she is also the Chair of the Culture and Attractions Committee. She is also a board member of the NYCEDC, serving on its Real Estate and Finance Committee.