Keynotes and General Sessions

A Geography of Hope: The Aspirational Nature of America’s Public Lands

Monday, February 25, 8:00 am

Public lands have always contained an aspirational element. In the late nineteenth century, renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted passionately argued that national parks of great natural beauty increased our capacity for happiness. A century later, celebrated western writer Wallace Stegner adamantly advocated for wilderness as Americans’ “geography of hope,” tangible evidence of our freedom from the shackles of industrialization. Certainly, all the public lands managed by the federal government have always embodied the aspirations and excitement of our forbearers as they looked across the North American continent and envisioned themselves carving out farm homesteads, ranches, mines, logging operations, and recreational spaces. Understanding public lands as a geography of hope is essential to understanding the ways in which Americans have interacted with their public lands. The aspirational nature of public lands explains how Americans have approached them and the various attitudinal configurations of those approaches. It offers us a way of hearing the multitude of individuals who use these lands today.

In this address, historians Michael Childers and Leisl Carr Childers will explore this aspirational quality of public lands through the tensions they have created, from park and wilderness ideals to the livelihood and lifestyles they support. Collectively, these tensions emerge from and coalesce around the fact that Americans have always aspired for their public lands to meet their personal interests and needs.

Presented By:


Leisl Carr Childers, Ph.D.

Colorado State University

Public Lands History Center


Michael Childers, Ph.D.

Colorado State University

Public Lands History Center

Nonprofits, Government, Land… and the Meaning of Life

Tuesday, February 26, 8:00 am

In her role as chief executive officer of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) - a statewide policy alliance and the voice for California’s nonprofit community - Jan Masaoka frequently looks at the role of the nonprofit in society. As a national recognized writer, researcher, speaker and thinker, she often does that by challenging norms and conventional wisdom, looking at things in a different way. With her keynote today, she remains true to form.

Among her awards and accomplishments, Jan was named Nonprofit Executive of the Year by Nonprofit Times and is an eight-time designee as one of the Fifty Most Influential people in the nonprofit sector nationwide. She has testified on nonprofit policy issues at the federal and state levels, and her articles have been published in Nonprofit Quarterly, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Sacramento Bee, and Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Her books include Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability (Jossey-Bass,co-authored with Jeanne Bell and Steve Zimmerman); The Nonprofit’s Guide to HR (Nolo); The Best of the Board Cafe (Fieldstone); and All Hands on Board: The Board of Directors in All-Volunteer Organizations (Boardsource).

Before CalNonprofits, Jan was the executive director of CompassPoint for 14 years, a nonprofit consulting/training firm. She also founded and wrote Blue Avocado magazine, growing it to 64,000 subscribers before leaving in late 2015. Jan’s volunteer work has included serving as board chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Wellness Center, founding chair of Community Initiatives, and a member of the Policy Committee of the Independent Sector, the San Francisco Telecommunications Commission, and the San Francisco Complete Count Committee in 2010.

Presented By:


Jan Masaoka

Chief Executive Officer


Role of Nonprofit Partners in Public Lands Infrastructure

Wednesday, February 27, 8:00 am

Nonprofit organizations have long had critical roles in the creation, maintenance, and enjoyment of public lands infrastructure. From building new visitor centers to maintaining trails and designing exhibits, nonprofit organizations leverage a network of corporations, foundations, volunteers and more to ensure visitors have enhanced experiences on public lands. Wednesday morning kicks off with a robust discussion highlighting best practices and novel innovations to sustainably improve the built environment of public lands.

Presented By:

Marcia Argust

Project Director, Restore America’s Parks

The Pew Charitable Trusts

Denise Coogan

Environmental Partnership Manger

Subaru of America

David A. Grove

President and CEO

Jefferson National Parks Association

Estee Rivera Murdock

Executive Director

Rocky Mountain Conservancy