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Conversations with Olmsted: Creating Parks for the Ages

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Olmsted200’s Conversations with Olmsted live webinar on Tuesday, July 20th at 3PM ET.

I’ll join an esteemed group of Olmsted park leaders from around the country to discuss the role of public parks in addressing today’s ecological, social, and cultural challenges and how we can sustain these parks for future generations.

Register today for this free event

Olmsted 200 invites you to join the second webinar in our Conversations with Olmsted series as we explore different aspects of Olmsted’s far-reaching influence on America’s physical landscape and social fabric. Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted firm believed that thoughtfully-designed public parks could bring communities together and provide residents and visitors with a host of health, economic and environmental benefits. Over a century after their creation, parks in New York, Louisville and Seattle face new opportunities and challenges.

Moderated by Karen Phillips, FASLA and 2021 LAF Medal Honoree in conversation with three innovative leaders of historic Olmsted parks, this program will examine the importance of public parks in addressing today’s ecological, social, and cultural changes as well as the need to sustain them for future generations. 

Karen Phillips
FASLA and 2021 LAF Medal Honoree

Credited as a leading figure of the second Harlem Renaissance, Karen is known to her friends and colleagues as someone with a steadfast commitment to equitable and sustainable urban development. Her career spans real estate, urban planning and revitalization, environmental design, community development, and public service.

As CEO of Harlem’s Abyssinian Development Corporation, she used historic preservation and architectural rehabilitation to uphold the neighborhood’s physical fabric, revitalize landmarks, and create affordable housing in tandem with economic development, civic engagement, and social services. In addition, she contributed to the formation of and continues to serve on the fundraising committee of the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN), which works to increase visibility, support the interests, and foster the impact of Black practitioners and students in landscape architecture. Recently retired, Karen is engaged in documenting her experiences rebuilding communities sustainably, sharing her expertise through her consulting firm, and serving on the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum Board of Trustees.

Susan Donoghue
President of Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator

In her dual appointment by Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks, Sue Donoghue is responsible for setting the vision and overall strategy for Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s flagship, 585-acre park. Sue leads a workforce of 200 Alliance and NYC Parks staff in the day-to-day operations of the park. As president of the Alliance, the non-profit organization that plays a critical role in park management, Sue oversees fundraising and revenue-generating activities that provide $11 million in general operating support for the park each year. Since her appointment in 2014, she has been responsible for raising over $50 million for capital improvements in the park, including the current restoration of the Flatbush Avenue perimeter. Sue earned a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. 

Layla George
President/CEO of Olmsted Parks Conservancy in Louisville, KY

Layla George, a Louisville native, joined the Olmsted Parks Conservancy in 2018 as their new President and CEO. Layla came to the Conservancy with a broad background in nonprofit leadership, fundraising, local food and farming, and land conservation. Olmsted Parks Conservancy was founded over 30 years ago with a mission to restore, enhance and forever protect Louisville’s 17 Olmsted Parks and 6 Parkways, connecting nature and neighborhood while strengthening the community’s well-being.

She was awarded a full-tuition scholarship for nonprofit executives from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business and graduated in May 2018 with her Master in Business Administration. She is a member of the Leadership Louisville Class of 2014.

Jennifer Ott
Assistant Director of HistoryLink and Steering Committee Chair of the Volunteer Park Trust in Seattle, WA

Jennifer Ott is an environmental historian and the assistant director at She is the author of Olmsted in Seattle: Creating a Park System for a Modern City, co-author with David B. Williams of Waterway: The Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal (2017), and general editor and co-author of Seattle at 150: Stories of the City through 150 Objects from the Seattle Municipal Archives (2018). She has also contributed articles on Washington state history to, Seattlemagazine, and the Oregon Historical Quarterly. She is a past president of Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks and the current chair of the Volunteer Park Trust steering committee.

To learn more about the Olmsted 200 bicentennial celebration and find nationwide events honoring the life and legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, please visit

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