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Bay Park Conservancy names first president and CEO

Stephanie Crockatt comes to The Bay after nine years of leading the development of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, an 850-acre park network.

Stephanie Crockatt is the first full-time president and CEO of the Bay Park Conservancy.
Stephanie Crockatt is the first full-time president and CEO of the Bay Park Conservancy.
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Since 2019 the Bay Park Conservancy has been led by a volunteer top executive, but now the organization has full-time, salaried leadership at the helm.

On Friday, the BPC announced Stephanie Crockatt will succeed Founding Chief Executive Officer AG Lafley as President and CEO of the nonprofit organization designing and developing The Bay on 53 acres of city-owned land on Sarasota Bay into a signature park. It is also responsible for operating, maintaining and programming the park as it opens to the public.

Crockatt will assume overall responsibility for building out The Bay. She will also spearhead funding to support ongoing operations, maintenance, programming and endowment, building on the partnership with the city and relationships with the county, foundations and philanthropists, business partners and friends of The Bay.

“Stephanie is the right person in the right place at the right time,” Lafley said in a news release. “She has the combination of experiences and skills BPC needs to complete the build-out of the park and the build-up of the park conservancy.”

Crockatt will report to Jennifer Compton, who chairs the BPC Board of Directors, and will work closely with the executive committee, board of directors and staff. 

Crockatt is a veteran park conservancy leader with development and fundraising experience as executive director of Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy in Buffalo, New York, the first nonprofit organization in the U.S. to manage and operate an entire urban park system consisting of six Olmsted-designed parks and 850 acres. 

In nine years of leading the Buffalo nonprofit, she secured substantial park maintenance funding from the city through a public-private partnership, built reliable annual fundraising from private sources, secured a major foundation gift to ensure sustainable conservancy operations, secured millions of dollars in capital support, fulfilled more than 50 capital restoration projects and built a team to manage and operate the parks.

"Conservancies are such important public-private partners, and I know this nonprofit will become one of the leading examples of park innovation, community engagement, and mission-driven success,” Crockatt said in the release. “Coming to Sarasota in this capacity feels amazing and I am looking forward to being part of this beautiful city and its robust culture."

The BPC was formed as a not-for-profit organization in 2019 to implement the master plan approved by the Sarasota City Commission. The BPC entered a long-term partnership with the city to help fund, develop, operate, maintain and program the park for the benefit of the community,

The first 14-acre phase of The Bay opened in October 2022. Phase 2, the next 14-acre, $65 million development, will begin in May 2023. The completed park will cost an estimated $175 million-$200 million and will take approximately 8-10 years to complete over four or more phases. Funding for the park is approximately 50% public, derived from a tax increment financing district in the downtown area around the park, and 50% private funding and grants.



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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