ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Paul Steely White has been named the new executive director of Parks and Trails New York. The appointment came after an extensive search, which started in November 2022 when the organization’s long-standing leader, Robin Dropkin, announced her retirement.

“The story of Robin Dropkin’s service to our mission is written in the parks, trails, and open spaces that are now thriving because of her unique brand of collaborative advocacy,” says Jeff Bender, Chairman of PTNY. “Robin’s body of work–spanning decades–is an amazing gift to the parks movement, and to the millions who now enjoy the fruits of her dedicated effort.”

Building on Dropkin’s accomplishments, White is excited to take up the mantle. “Public lands must be within closer reach to those who need them most,” he said. “We saw from the pandemic that parks and trails are not just ‘nice things to have,’ they are critical public health infrastructure. I am excited to join in the vital work that PTNY has been doing for decades to expand, protect, and promote New York’s public green spaces for the use and enjoyment of all New Yorkers.”

Before coming to Parks and Trails, White devoted his career to improving bicycling, walking, and public transit for downstate communities. From 2004-2018, during his tenure as the Executive Director at Transportation Alternatives, the organization grew New York City’s network of greenways and bike paths, pioneered bike share, and led broad coalitions to reclaim city parks from automobile traffic. In recognition of his impact, he received the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for creative approaches to building a more diverse, dynamic, and equitable urban environment. In 2015, he was also recognized by the New York Academy of Medicine for his work to make streets safer and healthier.

“New York State’s parks, trails, and public lands are seeing unprecedented attendance and investment,” added White. “Yet much more must be done to meet the enormous latent demand for immersive natural experiences. I am excited for what we will accomplish together for the next generations of park goers, cyclists, and lovers of green space.”