Brent Brown Stepping Down as President & CEO of Trinity Park Conservancy, Moving into Advisory Role
Conservancy Reaches $100 Million Fundraising Milestone for Capital Campaign for Harold Simmons Park, Entering Next Phase of Development for the 210-Acre Park at the Heart of Dallas.
DALLAS – Today, the Trinity Park Conservancy announced that president and CEO Brent Brown will step down from his current position, transitioning into an advisory role with the organization. The move comes as the Conservancy has commitments of more than $100 million for the capital campaign to build Harold Simmons Park, halfway to the $200 million goal. Walter Elcock, currently secretary of the Board of Directors of the Conservancy, will serve as interim president and CEO while the Board conducts a search for the next leader of the organization.
The Trinity Park Conservancy is the nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Dallas and the Trinity River Corridor Local Government Corporation (LGC) to transform the Trinity River into great public spaces for all. The first of these projects, Harold Simmons Park, was launched by a $50 million gift from Annette Simmons in 2016. Since then, the Conservancy has raised an additional $50 million in new gifts from Dallas area families and foundations. Once complete, the Park will encompass 210 acres and almost one mile of the Trinity River between the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge and Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to the north and Margaret McDermott Bridge to the south, connecting Downtown, West Dallas, and Oak Cliff.
“When I began working with the Conservancy (then The Trinity Trust Foundation), my goals were to create a vision for the Trinity River that would transform Dallas’ greatest natural asset into a gathering place for the entire community and to build the team that will realize the Park,” said Brown. “With a conceptual design for Harold Simmons Park now in place and with the capital campaign surpassing the halfway mark, I felt like it was time to hand over the reins of the day-to-day management and operation of the Conservancy so that I can continue to focus on community development for the Park.”
Brown began as an advisor to the organization in 2015, when the organization was still known as The Trinity Trust Foundation. At that time, he helped with the selection of acclaimed landscape architects Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA), guiding the early designs of the Park. Following the announcement of the Simmons gift, the Board appointed Brown as president and CEO in late 2016. Brown led the organization through its evolution to the Trinity Park Conservancy in 2017, as the mission of the organization expanded to encompass designing public spaces that unite the community, enriching people’s lives through access to nature, creating economic development opportunities, and inspiring protection for the river ecosystems in this shared natural treasure. In 2018, the Conservancy entered into a 70-year development agreement with the LGC, a special-purpose entity created by the City to deliver recreational improvements in the 2,000-acre Trinity River Floodway, giving the Conservancy responsibility for the design, construction, operation, and fundraising for the Park.
Brown also created a robust community engagement program designed to seek feedback from people across Dallas, including from neighborhoods adjacent to Harold Simmons Park, to gather input on the design. Last spring, the Conservancy organized a “behind-the-scenes” look at MVVA’s designs for the Park. The concept consists of two Overlook parks built outside the levees on the east and west sides of the river, as well as a re-naturalized floodway. Working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the regulatory agency for the floodway, and the City of Dallas, the Conservancy is advancing the design of the Park with a goal of breaking ground on the Overlooks in late 2021.
Under Brown’s guidance, last year the Conservancy purchased the former jail at 106 W. Commerce as part of the vision for the Park to generate significant economic, social and environmental value for the neighboring communities and all residents of Dallas. With a growing staff, Brown also established programs designed to highlight the ways people can enjoy the Trinity River today, including Seasons at Simmons, featuring hikes, kayak tours, and neighborhood history walks, and a variety of volunteer conservation programs.
“We are grateful to Brent for his leadership and for helping us shape a vision for Harold Simmons Park that is, in many ways, bigger than we ever thought possible. This Park will not only help us reconnect to one another and to nature, but also to build a better city,” said Deedie Rose, chair of the Board of Directors of the Conservancy. “With these plans now in place, and with the capital campaign halfway to our goal, the Conservancy is well-positioned to move into the next phase of work, bringing this vision to reality.”
Brown’s last day at the Conservancy will be April 24, 2020, after which he will continue to serve as a consultant to the organization. Elcock will resign from the Board as he takes the position of interim president and CEO. The Board will begin a search for a permanent replacement immediately, led by a committee chaired by Deedie Rose.