Seattle Parks Foundation Appoints Community Engagement Leader and Recreation Access Advocate Rebecca Bear as President & CEO
Seattle, WA (November 17, 2020) – Rebecca Bear, a leader in expanding access to outdoor recreation, parks and open spaces, has been named President & CEO of the Seattle Parks Foundation (SPF), an organization that advocates on behalf of parks and public spaces throughout Seattle. Bear brings 25 years of expertise building and scaling organizations and community programs nationwide, extensive fundraising and partnership experience, and a deep commitment to encouraging diverse communities to engage with the outdoors.
Most recently, Bear served as Director of REI Outdoor Programs and Local Community Engagement, where she led the strategic vision, planning and operations of REI’s community engagement platform, including public/private partnerships, local advocacy, community events and education initiatives nationwide. During her tenure, she co-led REI’s local community diversity initiatives, including a groundbreaking gender equity program.
Prior to REI, Bear was Board Chair of Passages Northwest, now YMCA BOLD & GOLD (Boys & Girls Outdoor Leadership Development), where she founded the Girls Rock! mentorship program for girls of color. In addition, she worked for Outward Bound International and founded an Outward Bound School in Mexico.
“I am honored to be joining the Seattle Parks Foundation team at this critical time in our city’s history,” said Bear, “The parks are an essential service for our health, our environment and our community. Today, more than ever, we need our parks to serve as places where we find our common humanity and address the inequities in our city.”
Bear’s appointment aligns with the scaling up of fundraising and advocacy efforts to support parks in historically marginalized communities in the city. Seattle Parks Foundation has made a series of commitments to racial equity, including providing substantially more direct financial support to community leaders and organizations in underserved communities with the goal to address historic public space gaps. SPF is also elevating a portfolio of high impact public space projects in which community partners are addressing inequities in parks and public spaces in their own neighborhoods.
“Seattle Parks Foundation is deepening its resolve to address systemic inequities in the investments, design, and distribution of our city’s parks and public spaces.” said Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, Board Chair of the Seattle Parks Foundation. “We are excited to have a leader who shares these commitments to equity and has the skills and experience to ensure the organization is effective in this exciting new chapter.”
The Seattle Parks Foundation will continue to advocate with public and private partners for funding and policies that ensures we have a vibrant ecosystem of parks in the city. As the Founder and Co-Chair of the Coalition for Outdoor Access, Bear brings to the foundation a background of national advocacy for public lands. She has also advocated for recreation access issues by serving on the Advisory Boards of the Outdoor Industry Association and the State of Colorado’s Office of Outdoor Recreation and Economic Development. Bear is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Recreation Resource Leadership Award and the U.S. Forest Service Wilderness Leadership Award. She earned an MEd from Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a BA from Reed College.
Bear assumed her responsibilities as President & CEO of Seattle Parks Foundation on November 5, 2020.
Seattle Parks Foundation engaged Kittleman & Associates to conduct a search for its new President & CEO. Kittleman & Associates is a national executive search firm that specializes in the recruitment of CEOs for tax-exempt nonprofit organizations, public charities and philanthropic organizations. Kittleman recruits leaders for the entire nonprofit sector including conservation, environmental education, public gardens, foundations, and historic sites. For more information visit www.kittlemansearch.com
Seattle Parks Foundation (SPF) is an amplifying force for philanthropy, planning, and advocacy on behalf of parks and public spaces throughout Seattle and a fiscal sponsor to 80 community partners across the city. Initially fueled by the energy of civic leaders whose efforts to build a 60-acre “Seattle Commons” in South Lake Union in the mid-1990s, SPF has become a convener of community leaders, donors, and public partners working to create a thriving, accessible and connected system of public space for the health and happiness of all people. For more information, visit www.seattleparksfoundation.org/