Photo by Gigi Altarejos
Dear Valued Friends and Supporters,
I want you to be among the first to hear about a transition in my role at Friends of the High Line.
Walking on the High Line is a journey. You start in one place and end up in a very different one. Along the way, you encounter all sorts of people and unexpected viewpoints that expand your perspective of what life in New York City can be.
When Friends of the High Line reached 34th Street last fall, after opening the High Line at the Rail Yards, I knew it was time for me to start on a new path.
In fact, I had looked at the opening of the park’s third, northernmost section as a personal milestone for some time. It certainly represents one for our organization: we have succeeded in preserving the entire historic structure and opening it to the public all the way from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street – a centerpiece of our mission. And because Co-Founder Robert Hammond decided to rejoin the organization as Interim Executive Director, I felt secure that I could explore new endeavors with Friends of the High Line in strong hands.
So I have decided to step down from my position as President this spring. At the same time, I will remain deeply involved in the organization as one of its Co-Founders and as a member of its Board of Directors.
I’ve been working on the High Line for more than 15 years, ever since Robert and I met at a Manhattan Community Board #4 meeting in 1999. What seemed an impossible dream on that summer night has since become reality, thanks to the efforts of you and many others.
At every stage of the project’s development, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was a visionary champion of the High Line, ensuring that the park was designed and constructed with innovation and excellence, and that a public-private partnership was forged to ensure its long-term sustainability. The High Line simply would not exist today, were it not for him, Patti Harris, Dan Doctoroff, Amanda Burden, Adrien Benepe, Bob Steel, and many others on the Bloomberg team.
New York City Council Speakers Gifford Miller and Christine Quinn fought to save the High Line when it was most threatened and helped secure vital resources for its transformation. Borough President Scott Stringer, now our City’s Comptroller, brought much-needed funding to the project, as did Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
I’m grateful that Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of his administration, especially First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and Commissioners Carl Weisbrod and Mitchell J. Silver, appreciate the High Line’s contributions to the City’s park system. They, along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and New York City Council Member Corey Johnson, are committed to working with us to leverage all we've accomplished to benefit even more New Yorkers.
Though I’ve referred to completing High Line at the Rail Yards as a milestone,
building the park is only part of the High Line’s story. We are also building Friends of the High Line, the non-profit conservancy that must care for the High Line for as long as we can see into the future.
We are fortunate to have many dedicated donors, led by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, whose legendary support of Friends of the High Line reflects their deep civic commitment to New York City. They, along with Wendy Keys and the late Donald Pels, gave us more than financial leadership – they inspired so many to believe that this unlikely vision could actually be realized. Our generous campaign donors have helped build the High Line and seed its endowment. And thousands of annual supporters make gifts large and small so that Friends of the High Line can maintain the park impeccably and engage our visitors with diverse cultural offerings.
For Friends of the High Line’s many outstanding successes, we owe much to the expert guidance and unwavering commitment of our Board of Directors, especially its first three chairmen, Phil Aarons, John Alschuler, and Catie Marron, and Co-Chair Mario Palumbo. Co-Founder Robert Hammond has been an incredible leader and partner. And I am constantly amazed by Friends of the High Line’s talented and passionate staff; they are the backbone of this remarkable organization and responsible for all its successes.
My job at Friends of the High Line has been one of the best imaginable. We, and the community members who have joined us over the past 15 years, have worked to create a beautiful green space for the City of New York. Our focus now and for the future is to contribute to our local community in countless ways, including through more than 400 free public programs each year that enrich the lives of everyone they touch.
As a Board member and as a community resident, I’ll continue to be very involved with the High Line. I live just a block away, and like many of my neighbors, I walk up there as I do my errands, and I jog there on early summer mornings. Every time I visit, I’m amazed that this extraordinary place actually exists, and I’m touched that so many people gave so much of themselves to bring it into being. Thank you for being a friend to the High Line, and a friend to me. I look forward to seeing you on the High Line.
Co-Founder and President