RALEIGH – Friends of the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail has announced that Brent Laurenz will become the association’s new executive director in early 2022. He will succeed Kate Dixon, who is retiring in early 2022.
Laurenz, of Raleigh, has over 15 years of nonprofit leadership in North Carolina and nationwide. Since 2015, he has been Deputy Director of Common Cause in North Carolina. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the NC Center for Voter Education. At the American Battlefield Trust, based in Washington, DC, he was a government relations associate, mainly focused on Virginia and Tennessee.
“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers, as well as local and state leaders,
North Carolina is at the forefront of trail and park programs in this country. I look forward to working with such committed partners and others to build on these successes, ”said Laurenz. “North Carolinians, including my family, have rediscovered in these difficult times how important trails and parks can be to our well-being.
The MST is a 1,175 mile walking trail that stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks. It connects 37 counties. While over 150 people have walked the entire distance, the majority of hikers use the trail for a few hours or days. Friends of the MST provides teams of volunteers across the state to build and maintain the trail, is a trail support advocate, and provides information and support for people to hike the trail.
“The Board of Directors is delighted to welcome Brent as the new CEO of Friends,” said Marcia Bromberg, incoming chair of Friends and chair of the search committee. “He brings considerable nonprofit experience, successful experience working with volunteers and, most importantly, a love of MST. We look forward to a long partnership with the newest member of our trails family!
Laurenz joins the organization just as the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor pass a new state budget that includes $ 29.25 million in funding for new trails, including the MST .
Friends will celebrate Laurenz’s arrival at their annual Friends Gathering April 7-10 at Lake Junaluska. The agenda will include honors for Kate Dixon, the only executive director in Friends history.