ThinkingAhead Lands New Leader for Appalachian Trail Conservancy

ThinkingAhead Lands Suzanne Dixon Leader Appalachian Trail Conservancy

December 1, 2017 – ThinkingAhead Executive Search has placed Suzanne Dixon as president and CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). Recruiters Chris Spagnola and Jessica Martinez led the assignment.

The organization was looking for a dynamic, entrepreneurial leader to work in collaboration with Appalachian Trail stakeholders, conservancy board members and staff, volunteers, partner organizations and agencies, to preserve a nationally and internationally renowned American jewel.

For nearly 20 years, Ms. Dixon held key roles for the National Parks Conservation Association, advocating for the broader protection of the National Park System. She most recently served as senior director of regional operations. Her accomplishments included helping win San Antonio Missions National Historical Park its designation as a World Heritage Site. She also played a critical role in the designation of the Waco Mammoth National Monument and the protection of Fort Davis National Historic Site. Ms. Dixon also serves on the board of directors for the Waco Mammoth Foundation.

Talent and Drive

“Suzanne has the extraordinary talent and drive that is necessary to be the leading voice for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy,” said Sandra Marra, chair of ATC’s board of directors. “Her success in protecting the values of the National Parks, along with her expertise in fundraising, advocacy and programmatic growth, will be a great asset for the ATC and the greater Appalachian Trail community.”


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In her new role, Ms. Dixon will lead the organization in its mission to maintain, protect and celebrate the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Reporting to a 15-member board of directors, she is charged with providing strategic leadership and vision to 60 professional staff. Her job includes ensuring that ATC’s fiscal, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resource, technology and programmatic strategies are effectively implemented across all parts of the organization.

“The Appalachian Trail is an American treasure, and I’m privileged to lead this team as we celebrate the recreational, economic and cultural significance of the trail,” said Ms. Dixon. “I’m excited to be an ambassador and collaborator with communities up and down the Appalachian Trail as we move forward in protecting the trail and its surrounding landscapes. By working directly with the public, we will strengthen our ability for families to enjoy this precious resource for generations to come.”

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its natural beauty and cultural heritage will continue in perpetuity. It is the only organization dedicated solely to protecting and promoting the hiking trail, providing outdoor recreation and educational opportunities for trail visitors. Founded in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is a $9.6 million, 501c(3) organization, headquartered in Harpers Ferry, WV.


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The Recruiters

ThinkingAhead, based in Nashville, recruits candidates for a global list of clients, ranging in size from the Inc. 500 to Fortune 100 companies. It specializes in the following specialties: commercial banking and commercial finance, energy, healthcare IT, informatics & analytics, information technology & gaming, non-profit, pharmaceutical and medical device, building products, and mechanical and architectural construction. ThinkingAhead was recently tapped by the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee to lead its search for a new president and CEO.

Ms. Spagnola recruits non-profit professionals nationwide, specializing in attracting top-caliber executive leadership and development talent for her clients. Prior to joining the ThinkingAhead non-profit practice in 2011, she spent 12 years recruiting in-house for ThinkingAhead and its sister company, Great American Opportunities.

Ms. Martinez is a senior recruiter in the non-profit practice. She specializes in attracting top-caliber executive leadership and development talent for clients across the country.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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