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Landscape architect to lead Olmsted Parks Conservancy

On a day that saw one Michigan native named head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, a woman from the Great Lakes state was tapped to be the next leader of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the organization announced Thursday.

Stephanie Crockatt, a Michigan State University graduate with a degree in landscape architecture, was appointed executive director of the conservancy – a position she’s occupied on an interim basis since last October. The conservancy oversees the care of Buffalo’s parks, including Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King Jr., Riverside and South parks, with an annual budget of $3.4 million.

“Stewarding the Olmsted legacy is a tremendous opportunity, and during this interim period, I have worked with a talented team of professionals, devoted board members and caring citizens who love and appreciate this historic system,” Crockatt said.

Conservancy officials pointed out Crockatt “grew to admire Frederick Law Olmsted” during her studies in landscape architecture and represented the University of Georgia when she toured Buffalo’s park system in 2011 during the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference here. At that time, Crockatt was in the midst of a seven-year tenure as director of external affairs for the university’s College of Environment and Design.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown lauded Crockatt for her “communication, creativity and collaboration” during her time as interim director. The city contributes more than $1.2 million annually to the conservancy.

“I’m confident that this partnership will thrive under her leadership,” Brown said.

Members of the conservancy’s board of trustees pointed out Crockatt, in her short seven-month leadership of the conservancy, accomplished much and “played a key role” in the selection of Delaware Park as one of the 2014 Great Places in America by the American Planning Association.

“Not only does she possess all of the qualifications this crucial role requires,” said Kevin Kelly, chairman of the conservancy board, “she has demonstrated a true passion for our beloved parks and a sincere commitment to our mission.”

Crockatt replaces Massachusetts native Thomas Herrera-Mishler, who resigned last fall after six years as the conservancy’s leader to pursue other career interests.