New Executive Director Selected For The Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Date Published: Jan 03, 2012

Harpers Ferry, WV (January 03, 2012) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC) Board of Directors has appointed Mark J. Wenger as the new Executive Director who will lead the organization beginning February 2012. Wenger will succeed David N. Startzell, the longest serving Executive Director in the ATC’s history.

Mark J. Wenger
Wenger is active in the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) community as life member of both the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club (TATC) and the Old Dominion Appalachian Trail Club. He is past program chair, vice president, and president of TATC.  He was most recently Regional Partnership Committee (RPC) representative and RPC chairman for the Virginia region.  He also served on the steering committee for the recently completed 2011 Virginia Journeys, the ATC’s 38th Biennial Conference.  Wenger has also led an extensive number of outdoor trips (backpacking, canoeing, cycling, and whitewater rafting) for the TATC earning him the Ray Kernel, Jr., Trip Leadership Award.  On August 1, 2011, he completed an 8-year, 3-month effort to section hike the A.T.

Bob Almand, Chair of the Board of Directors for the ATC, stated, “Mark has the non-profit management experience that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is looking for, plus a strong connection to the A.T. and the Trail community.”

Wenger previously held a variety of leadership positions over 32 years with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia, the largest outdoor museum in the world and one of the largest museums in the United States.  The Foundation is devoted to the preservation and interpretation of eighteenth-century American life with emphasis on the revolutionary time period. 

He brings to the ATC and in-depth knowledge of organizational, operational, financial, communications, and development skill sets in the not-for-profit field.  In his most recent position, he served as Director of Facilities where he was responsible for managing an operating budget of $30 million, maintaining more than 800 buildings, 1,500 acres, and 200 employees and volunteers. 

Wenger graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a Bachelor of Architecture degree.  He received a Master in Architectural History from the University of Virginia and is a licensed architect in Virginia and Louisiana. 

Wenger is active in a number of other groups.  He has volunteered for over 22 years with the Boy Scouts of America at the local, council, and regional levels. He is Outdoor Ethics Advisor for his council providing him a vehicle to champion the cause of Leave No Trace while at the same time promoting more but responsible use of the outdoors.  He serves on the board and is vice chair of the Williamsburg Landing, a large, not-for-profit retirement community.  He is active with his college fraternity, Delta Tau Delta, at the national level.  He serves of the board of the Mountain State Railroad and Historical Logging Association based in Cass, West Virginia.  He has served on a number of local, state, and national bodies, both governmental and private.  One he is most proud of is chairing the Parks and Recreation Commission of James City County, Virginia, as they undertook a bond referendum to establish more parks and an extensive network of trails to connect them.  The bond referendum passed by an overwhelming margin.   

“I feel honored to be offered the position of Executive Director at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. I intend to build on the high standards and excellence that defines this organization while moving forward to serve the next generation of Trail users”, stated Wenger.

Wenger enters the ATC at a time of growth and development. The ATC currently has over 42,000 members, a vast network of over 6,800 volunteers, 2 to 3 million Trail visitors every year, and an operating budget of $6.8 million. 2012 also marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the A.T.

About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information please visit

Contact: Javier Folgar
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Tel: 304.535.6331 x117         
Fax: 304.535.2667
Email: [email protected]


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  1. Laurie Potteiger | Feb 04, 2012

    Welcome to the ATC HQ staff, Mark.  We love the energy, humor, and trail savvy you bring to the job. It's terrific to have a 2,000-miler at the helm, and equally exciting to have a former A.T.-maintaining club president leading us. What a great start to a new era!

  2. Brenda Aschenbach | Feb 02, 2012
    We had the opportunity of hiking with you in the Balds during the annual Conference in VA.  As a matter of fact we drove in your car to the site.  I remembered that you were involved in Boy Scouts and attended the Jamboree, and mentioned that my son Ernie worked for DGIF out of the Richmond office. I sent him this newsletter with your picture and he may know you.  Did you grow up in PA?  (Please reply). We had lived in Lititz when my boys were in Scouts and he may know you.  Congratulations on your new position!  That is awesome!  Bren and Tom  
  3. cesar Bocock | Jan 07, 2012
    Congratulations Mark!
  4. Roger Pierson | Jan 06, 2012
    Congratulations Mark!  Hang on ATC, we just took on a very high energy leader.  We will get a lot done, and have a great time doing it.
  5. Roxann Norman | Jan 05, 2012


    Congratulations to you on your new position.  I cannot think of a better person to have received this job.  We have worked together for a long time at Colonial Williamsburg, and although my position was eliminated, I never held you accountable.  I always felt it was God's choice for me to move on, and this is God's choice for you to move on.  I wish you much blessings in this new endeavor and I know you will be a great asset.  God Bless you.

  6. Janeand Jane Oakes | Jan 05, 2012
    Congratulations, Mark.  TATC will miss you.
  7. Sue Kropp | Jan 04, 2012

    Congratulations Mark.  We are so fortunate to have such an accomplished leader at the ATC!  

  8. Steve Blanks | Jan 04, 2012
    This news is fantastic for the ATC and for you Mark.  Congratulations and we look forward to following your success. 
  9. Mike Wingeart | Jan 04, 2012
  10. Mike McManus | Jan 03, 2012

    This is great news!!!I I'm sure Mark will be a perfect fit!!!

  11. Mark Connolly | Jan 03, 2012

    Best wishes to you as you assume this post, with a predecessor of significant repute.  You've got the talent set to achieve great things in this job!

  12. Seth Levy | Jan 03, 2012
    Welcome Mark!
  13. Chris Wilson | Jan 03, 2012

    Congratulations Mark! A great guy who truly deserves the honor!

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