friends alliance


Charting the Direction

Since 1998, the Friends Alliance has been an informal network of peer practitioners seeking insights by connecting with colleagues facing similar challenges and opportunities. Run by a volunteer committee and with generous financial and administrative support from National Park Foundation, leaders had the ability to use this informal network to support each other, learn, and find community in their professional purpose. Over the past 25 years the number of organizations supporting national parks and their needs have grown. In order to meet the needs of the network with professional staff and resources, the Friends Alliance was incorporated as an independent nonprofit corporation in 2023.

Our Team

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Vickie Mates

Executive Director

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Katie Wright

Membership Director

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Lauren Harnishfeger

Executive Assistant

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“The pandemic created an urgent need for collaboration and knowledge sharing, a wonderful by-product of that effort is increased trust within the national park partner community. Now is the moment to capitalize on the relationships deepened over the past three years. NatureBridge is excited to work with our brilliant peers to enhance philanthropy for education programs in parks across the country.”


President & CEO, NatureBridge

Board of Directors

Led by leaders in the national park friends community, our board of directors represent the needs of our members.

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Frank Dean, Chair

President and CEO, Yosemite Conservancy

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Ryan McClure, Vice Chair

Executive Director, Gateway Arch Park Foundation

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Doug Mitchell, Treasurer

Executive Director, Glacier National Park Conservancy

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Bess Averett

Executive Director, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign

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Phil Kilbridge

President and CEO, NatureBridge

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Estee Rivera

Executive Director, Rocky Mountain Conservancy

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Chris Lehnertz

President and CEO, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

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Dan Blakemore

Philanthropy Director
Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Tricia King Mims

Executive Director, National Park Partners of Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Moccasin Bend

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Agency & Partner Advisors

The strength of the friends community is bolstered by a deep partnership with both the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service.

Will Shafroth

President and CEO, National Park Foundation

Lise Aangeenbrug

Chief Program Officer, National Park Foundation

Sarah Unz

Vice President, Community Partnerships, National Park Foundation

Shannon Fino

Manager, Community Partnerships, National Park Foundation

Mike Reynolds

Deputy Director, National Park Service

Lauren Imgrund

Associate Director, Office of Partnerships & Civic Engagement, National Park Service

Reggie Chapple

Division Chief, Office of Partnerships & Philanthropic Stewardship, National Park Service

Karissa DeCarlo

Partnerships Program Coordinator, Office of Partnerships & Philanthropic Stewardship, National Park Service

Our Mission

Our MISSION is to enhance support for national park sites by creating a space for collaboration, creativity, and support of philanthropic partnerships between the National Park Service and their official nonprofits.

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