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  • Writer's pictureAccokeek Foundation

Reimagining the Accokeek Foundation

As we head into the holiday season and the end of 2022, I’m feeling especially reflective and grateful. I can’t believe it’s been nearly five years since I began serving as the president of the Accokeek Foundation.

I never could have imagined the diverse opportunities and challenges that the Foundation would navigate over this time: strategic planning, interpretive planning, board growth and diversification, re-negotiation of our long-term cooperative agreement with NPS, facilities renovations, and even adoption of a new vision that fundamentally reimagines the Accokeek Foundation’s work. The amazing TeamAF worked together to do all of this during a pandemic that led us to transform programs and operations while serving record numbers of visitors in the park.

When I accepted the job as president in 2018, I (and the board and staff) understood my time in that role would be limited. As many of you know, my husband John has Huntington’s disease, a genetic neurological disease that affects his cognitive, physical, and mental wellness. As the disease progresses, families affected by HD face tremendous challenges.

Last summer, I shared with the board that the time was coming for me to step back from my role as president of the Foundation. The board was supportive, as always, and appointed a Transition Taskforce to plan for a leadership transition at the end of 2022. The board will proceed with interviewing candidates for president in early calendar 2023, with hiring anticipated by mid-calendar 2023.

Though I’ll no longer be serving as president, I remain committed to the Foundation’s mission work and will shift into a new role working with the board as a strategic fundraising advisor, starting in January 2023.

I’m delighted that the board has asked Foundation vice president Anjela Barnes to serve as interim president. As she has done many times during her 13-year tenure with the Foundation, Anjela has stepped up to accept the new challenge and will assume the role of interim president in January. It’s been a gift to participate in shared leadership with Anjela and especially to support her vision for “Accokeek Reimagined.” The vision builds on strategic planning to center Indigenous people, history, and culture as we interpret and steward the landscape of Piscataway Park. It offers an inspiring, transformative approach to restoring land and water, traditions, and community.

The leadership transition offers critical opportunities for us to manifest the Foundation's new vision through our hiring and positioning for the future. We look forward to sharing regular updates with you and encourage your feedback. We can only do this work with your trust and partnership, so thank you for your generous support and for continuing to walk with us into this new season.

Peace and blessings,

Laura Ford

Accokeek Foundation President


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