By Daniel Katzive
Riverside Park Conservancy (RPC) announced on Monday that Merritt Birnbaum will be joining the nonprofit in September as its next President and Chief Executive Officer. Birnbaum is currently the Executive Director of the Friends of Governors Island, a similar organization to the Conservancy, which runs the Governors Island green spaces, visitor centers, and volunteer programs, in cooperation with the National Park Service. She has held that position since 2015.
According to the Riverside Park Conservancy’s press release, “Ms. Birnbaum will lead strategic programmatic growth and fundraising campaigns for the Conservancy, as well as shepherd major capital projects in partnership with the Parks Department, with a particular focus on intensifying efforts in the northern half of the park, which runs up to the George Washington Bridge.”
The Riverside Park Conservancy indicates its mission is “to restore, maintain, and improve Riverside Park in partnership with the City of New York for the enjoyment and benefit of all New Yorkers. [The group] support[s] the preservation of the park’s historic landscape, structures, and monuments, engage[s] the community in active stewardship of the park, and provide[s] a wide range of public programs.”
In a message posted on LinkedIn, Birnbaum wrote, “I’m so excited for the opportunity to lead Riverside Park Conservancy’s next chapter and help one of our city’s most beautiful and dynamic parks become even better.”
The Conservancy’s previous leader, Dan Garodnick, stepped down in January to join the administration of Mayor Eric Adams as City Planning Commission chair, and director of the Department of City Planning.