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The beginning of a new year always seems to bring with it the possibilities for big changes. For some, it’s eating healthier or hiking more. For Yosemite lovers, it could be snagging a Half Dome permit, booking a bucket list adventure, or learning to rock climb.  

For me, it’s retiring this summer and transitioning to a somewhat quieter time in life — more relaxing days, traveling with my wife Diane, and hitting the John Muir Trail again. 

2023 was a special year for Yosemite Conservancy as we celebrated our centennial in August, celebrated a record $17 million in annual support to the park, and reflected on the more than $152 million in grants to Yosemite for more than 800 projects.  

The work of Yosemite Conservancy spans all aspects of the park. And during my decade of service at the Conservancy, I’m honored to have been part of the restoration of the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias; the opening of the updated Bridalveil Fall viewing areas, the new Yosemite Valley Welcome Center and, this week, the transformation of the former Valley Visitor Center into a reimagined Yosemite Exploration Center with interactive exhibits and staffed by volunteers, docents, and naturalists.  

On June 14, 2018, Yosemite Conservancy and the National Park Service celebrated the restoration of Mariposa Grove at a special dedication ceremony. The grove reopened to the public on June 15, 2018. Pictured: Frank Dean (Yosemite Conservancy) and Michael Reynolds (Yosemite National Park) cutting the ceremonial ribbon.


As Yosemite Conservancy begins our second century of service to Yosemite National Park, it seems fitting that we begin the search for a new leader for the Conservancy.  

While change can create some uncertainty, it is also healthy for an organization.  

The Conservancy is in great financial shape and our partnership with the National Park Service staff in Yosemite is stronger than ever. They’re asking us to support them in new ways, and it is gratifying to know that the Conservancy has the capacity to consider new opportunities along with our core mission. This is an exciting time, and I will be cheering you on after I step back.  

 A search committee of Conservancy board, council, and staff members will soon contract an executive search firm to launch a nationwide search for the new President & CEO, and I’ll be staying on until that person is in place — ensuring a smooth transition in our leadership and service. Given the reputation of Yosemite Conservancy, I am confident the board will find an exceptional new leader with the right experience and talents for the increasing partnership role we have in stewarding Yosemite.  


It has been an honor for me to serve with Yosemite Conservancy.  

Yosemite National Park: October 20, 2018 – Bridalveil Groundbreaking. Pictured (left to right): Scott Gediman (NPS), Brad Lewis (NPS), Frank Dean (Conservancy), Teresa Austin (NPS) and Sabrina Diaz (NPS) posing with shovels for the groundbreaking. Photo by Yosemite Conversancy/Al Golub.

We are blessed with a great cause — an international icon that inspires our donors and brought each of us to this organization.  

Getting to know you, exploring our common interests in Yosemite, and working together to preserve it for the future has been the most fulfilling part of this job.  

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity — it has been the highlight of my professional life!