New York, NY — The Board of Trustees of the Central Park Conservancy has named Elizabeth Weinberg Smith President & Chief Executive Officer, effective March 1, 2018. Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith has served on the Board of the Central Park Conservancy since 2014 and sits on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Urban Parks, the Conservancy’s educational arm.
Ms. Smith previously served as NYC Parks Assistant Commissioner during the Bloomberg Administration, with responsibility for the Agency’s large and highly diversified concession portfolio as well as its annual roster of all major special events on City parkland. In addition, she managed relationships with an expanding portfolio of conservancies and other public-private partnerships, serving as principal liaison with the Agency. During her tenure, she also oversaw the marketing and corporate sponsorship departments, as well as numerous special projects focused on strategic planning, staffing models, and branding. Since leaving NYC Parks at the end of the Administration in 2013, Ms. Smith has remained an involved and avid supporter of urban parks and open space, serving as a Board Member of Friends of the High Line and the Open Space Institute, and Vice Chair of New Yorkers for Parks, in addition to her role on the Central Park Conservancy’s Board of Trustees.
“Betsy is a dedicated advocate of urban parks in general and Central Park in particular,” said Thomas L. Kempner, Central Park Conservancy Chairman of the Board. “After conducting an extensive search, it was clear to the Board and to me that Betsy’s impressive management, government, philanthropic, and parks experience makes her uniquely qualified to lead the Central Park Conservancy ― and continue to increase the impact of its mission in the future."
Betsy Smith stated, “I am so pleased at the prospect of working with the superb team whom I have known and admired for many years. Their work to restore Central Park has made it one of the most impactful cultural institutions in the City and one of the most beloved urban landscapes in the world. I hope to build on the team’s success and find new ways to secure the Conservancy’s future as a steward of Central Park and champion of world-class urban park management. It will be an honor to lead the Conservancy and partner with NYC Parks to pursue that mission on behalf of every New Yorker and Park visitor.”
Retiring Conservancy President & CEO Douglas Blonsky added, “Our Board of Trustees has made an outstanding decision to entrust leadership of the Conservancy to Betsy Smith, whom I had the pleasure of working with during her time at NYC Parks and later as a Conservancy Trustee. Her forward-thinking guidance during the formation of our Institute for Urban Parks is one great example of her ability to create positive change and inspire planning in consideration of future generations of Park users.”
“With her distinguished record of public service ― specifically at NYC Parks ― Betsy will provide inspiring leadership to the Central Park Conservancy,” said Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Under Doug’s epoch-defining leadership, the Conservancy strengthened its partnership with NYC Parks and shared its expertise with parks across our city. We look forward to Betsy’s vision and intelligence further developing this deeply beneficial relationship.”
Prior to joining NYC Parks, Ms. Smith had a 25-year career in finance. She started her professional career in commercial banking at JP Morgan before transitioning to venture capital and private equity management at Prospect Group Inc. and at the family offices of Harry F. Oppenheimer and the Rockefeller Financial Group. She later ran client services and finance at Sotheby’s before joining the Bloomberg Administration in 2002.
In addition to her involvement in parks and open space, Ms. Smith is the Vice Chair of her alma mater, Scripps College. She is also the Vice Chair of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Chair of the Library of America. Ms. Smith has two daughters and lives in New York City with her husband, Rick Cotton.