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News: 12/01/2019

Jack London Park Partners names new director

On Feb. 3, 2020, Matt Leffert, 48, will succeed Tjiska Van Wyk as executive director of Jack London Park Partners, the non-profit organization that manages Jack London State Historic Park.

Leffert has helped raise more than $7.5 million as leader of One Tam Partnership, a complex, multi-agency partnership and initiative of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to include over 50,000 acres on Mt. Tamalpais. Prior to this, Leffert headed the conservancy’s corporate development strategies for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, ultimately raising $5 million and an additional $1 million benefiting Alcatraz Island infrastructure, the Institute at the Golden Gate, and the Bay Area Healthy Parks – Healthy People program.

Partnering with the National Park Service and Presidio Trust since 1981, the conservancy has provided over $550 million in support to the Golden Gate National Parks, rallied more than 275,000 volunteers, and pioneered innovative park stewardship and education programs.

Leffert has over 18 years’ experience finding funds for a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, including Point Blue Conservation Science, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the de Young and Legion of Honor museums. In post-Katrina New Orleans, Leffert led a $40 million campaign to rebuild and reform the city’s devastated public school system. While he was there, he was the legacy director for the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, successfully working with 12 autonomous partner organizations.

“The Board could not be happier with the skills, talents and experience Matt brings to build on the management foundation established by Tjiska,” said Lynne Deegan-McGraw, president of Jack London Park Partners. “Matt’s excellent relationships with the Department of Parks and Recreation is considered by our entire board as a major plus as we expand our partnership.”

“I wanted the job from the first time I heard about it,” Leffert said, “The park, the community, the history. But what clinched it for me was the mission, to run the Park in a way that would make Jack London proud. How aspirational is that? Who wouldn’t want the job?”

Leffert has long and distinguished ties to Sonoma Valley. His great grandfather was James P. George, founder of the eponymous George Ranch. Leffert, his wife, Sarah, and their two daughters have already found a home in the valley, and the two girls, fourth and sixth graders, are deep in their studies at Presentation School.

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