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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Farewell Hayley, Welcome Mackenzie

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Mackenzie Sanders
/ Categories: Our Community

It is bittersweet to say a fond farewell to one of our team members. Our now former Development Manager, Hayley Kwasniewski, will be dearly missed, but we are excited for what is to come, for both Hayley and The Park People. 

Fittingly, Hayley Kwasniewski interviewed to become The Park People’s first Development Manager while sitting under a Platt Park tree. They accepted The Park People’s offer and quickly introduced new approaches to donor communication while effectively employing time-tested methods to significantly increase grant and donation revenue. Now, Hayley will be taking the next step on their career path by pursuing a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

 Hayley immediately observed that The Park People was performing compelling work at a time when the public was becoming increasingly attuned to climate change, tree equity, and environmental justice issues, but also observed that The Park People’s work “just needed to be celebrated.”  Hayley’s task, as they saw it, was to increase the celebration. And so, Hayley initiated quarterly newsletters and a blog, including a post that led to a feature story by Channel 9’s Kyle Clark on The Park People’s TreeForce program. Hayley also gave The Park People’s Instagram postings “a different vibe.”  

Hayley with Loriee Evans, Community Engagement Coordinator, at Denver Digs Trees 2023 distribution day 

 At the same time, Hayley excelled at communicating with donors. As soon as they started, Hayley began calling donors to provide program updates and, most importantly, to listen to them. They were especially effective at accommodating donors’ preferences for making an impact. 

Ironically, it was the lessons of these and other experiences with The Park People that led Hayley to apply for the PhD program with a longer-term goal of teaching at the college level. As Hayley explains, they learned from working with The Park People’s staff that, to be effective, it is necessary to understand and employ “the methods that science tells us are useful.” They also learned that science is most productive when it is effectively communicated to people outside the scientific world. These conclusions led them to enter the PhD program to improve their grasp of the science with the goal of communicating it to future students. 

While purusing their PhD, Hayley will continue as a member of the The Park People community and volunteer their time when not in school. The Park People Trustee Melissa Crowley, for one, predicts that Hayley “will do big things for this planet.”

Hayley and Mackenzie on Mount Galbraith 

Mackenzie Sanders has joined The Park People as its new Development Manager, succeeding Hayley. After growing up in Tucson and graduating from the University of Arizona, Mackenzie spent three years in New York, raising funds for non-profits and obtaining a master’s degree in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Now, she says, she is glad to be closer to home, the mountains, and western landscapes.  

What attracted Mackenzie to The Park People? While interviewing, she noticed that “everyone finds joy in this work.” She looks forward to working with her new colleagues to help build healthy and resilient communities while tackling environmental challenges. Although she understands why residents could be suspicious of non-profits who come into their community, she surmises that The Park People is effective because “everyone delivers,” it has outstanding leaders, and it listens to community members. 

Just as The Park People’s programs depend upon listening, Mackenzie will be engaging with and listening to donors “no matter how much or how consistently they donate.” She wants donors to feel that they can walk into her office without an appointment or call her up for coffee. Through her contact with donors, Mackenzie hopes that they will realize “how much impact their support is making.”   

Mackenzie especially wants to focus on families and kids, whom she wants to “get excited about parks and get excited about trees.”  After all, she says, they are the ones who will plant trees in the future. 

To reach Mackenzie, call her at 303-722-6262 or email her at   

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