NEW YORK, NY — The President & CEO of the Central Park Conservancy, Elizabeth W. Smith, has announced the appointment of Damon Bennett to the role of Chief of Park Operations. Bennett will provide strategic and operational leadership on all matters related to Park operations and the visitor experience. Bennett is a member of the Conservancy's executive leadership team and reports directly to Smith.
Bennett’s appointment will strengthen and add strategic oversight to Park management at a critical moment. The Conservancy, now in its 40th year, is the organization responsible for all aspects of Central Park’s care, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has added new difficulties to caring for the Park—which has remained open and available to the public during the entirety of this public health crisis.
“The pandemic has demonstrated just how essential the Park is for New Yorkers’ wellbeing. Our expansive, clean, and inspiring greenspace has never been more appreciated,” said Smith. “Damon’s 20 years of operations and logistics experience will help us meet the challenge of keeping the Park a respite for the people of this City for the long-term.”
The nonprofit Conservancy was formed in 1980 during another financial crisis, and its rescue and restoration of Central Park has become a celebrated model of public-private partnership. Since then, the Park has become one of the most frequented sites in the country with 42 million visitors a year.
“It is an honor and privilege for me to join the leadership team. I’m so impressed by the organization’s accomplishments over the last four decades, restoring the Park and keeping it a haven at a time when it is needed more than ever,” said Bennett. “I look forward to working with the staff and surrounding communities to ensure the Park remains a welcoming and accessible place for years to come.”
In his role, Bennett oversees Park maintenance, facility operations, landscape management, Park use management, visitor services, public programs, and operational administrative planning. A seasoned executive, Bennett’s experience in coalition building, contracting, emergency management, logistics, organizational design, and human resource management will greatly benefit the Conservancy’s model.
Prior to joining the Conservancy, Bennett directed projects that include high-profile initiatives at Fort Knox, Fort Bragg, and at the Defense Logistics Agency. A former United States Army officer and decorated veteran, Bennett has been awarded a Bronze Star Medal, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, a Joint Commendation Service Medal, and an Air Assault Badge.
Bennett is a graduate of Morgan State University and holds an MBA in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. His first day with the Conservancy was January 25.
About the Central Park Conservancy
The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to preserve and celebrate Central Park as a sanctuary from the pace and pressures of city life, enhancing the enjoyment and wellbeing of all. The Conservancy’s staff of more than 300 is responsible for all aspects of the Park’s stewardship, from day-to-day maintenance and operations to continued restoration and rebuilding projects. For more information, please visit centralparknyc.org.