It’s been a big year, Charlie Brown…I mean McCabe

10 10 2012

Let’s go back in time to November, 2011. Daniel Woodroffe, Charlie McCabe and I were enjoying a cup of coffee at Progress Coffee over on east 5th Street. The three of us tried to meet twice a month to discuss Foundation business, keep up on city gossip, and plan for the coming year.

That’s when Charlie dropped the bomb that he was going to leave APF, and for very honorable reasons, return to his hometown of Boston.  I felt all the blood rush out of my head…my worst nightmare as the new president of the Parks Foundation was happening.  What were we going to do?

The only good news was that he planned to stay till after It’s My Park Day…always held on the 1st Saturday in March…that gave us three months…plenty of time to find a replacement.  I don’t remember Daniel saying much…he might have…I don’t think I was hearing much that was said after the now famous lines, “I’m leaving the Foundation and looking for a job in Boston.”  Much of the rest of the morning was a blank.

Charlie actually ended up leaving at the end of January and two of the three remaining staff members were gone shortly after It’s My Park Day in March. Thank goodness Eric stayed.  He was, and is, a very competent person who held things together with the help and guidance of Gretchen Flatau, who came on board as Interim Executive Director and did an outstanding job.

You know, as I look back on those months, I realize that I don’t really know much about Eric.  We had a few talks at the office, mostly about business.  I wish I knew more about him personally. The Foundation owes him quite a lot.  If you could buy stock in people like you can buy stock on the stock exchange, let me give you a hot stock tip: buy a few shares of Eric Courchesne and hold them for the long term.  You’ll make money on that deal!

Anyway, we all made it through the madness. The whole process forced us to re-examine our organization and I am pleased to say that the Austin Parks Foundation has an exciting new direction, a great new leader in Colin Wallis – who comes to us after eight years with the Livestrong Foundation – and a great staff in Eric, Jessica, Bill and Kate.  I feel extremely fortunate to have been part of a very special year.

Thank you all,
Ralph Webster
Past President, Austin Parks Foundation

Executive Director leaving Austin Parks Foundation After Six Years of Mud, Sweat & Cheers

26 01 2012

For Immediate Release:  January 25, 2012      

Media Contacts:

Sara Beechner, Austin Parks Foundation

(Austin, TX)— The Austin Parks Foundation Executive Director Charlie McCabe is turning in his weed wrench and pruning saw and saying thank you and goodbye to thousands of volunteers who have made improvements to Austin’s 200+ parks and trails. McCabe is headed to Boston, Massachusetts where he will serve as Director of Public Programs for the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy (

“Charlie has an amazing gift in what seems to be an unlimited capacity to assist people. He’s become a master at how to get things done and lift up the parks to their fullest potential. He’s a true park hero and the city of Austin is a better place because of him,” said Ralph Webster, current Austin Parks Foundation Board President.

During his six years as Executive Director, McCabe made significant strides including:

  • Growing the annual It’s My Park Day from 940 volunteers doing 23 projects to 2,000+ volunteers working on 68 projects in 2011.
  • Increasing the Austin Parks Foundation grants program from $8,000 in 2005 to over $300,000 in grants in 2011, thanks to the support of the Austin City Limits Music Festival.  An additional $200,000 in matching funds was raised by park grantees, resulting in $500,000 in park improvements in 2011.
  • Leading the effort to design, fund and construct Phase 1 of improvements at Republic Square, including historic Auction Oak tree treatments, a carefully constructed deck and planting area surrounding the historic oaks, as well as new trees and grass on a re-leveled park site that hosts weekly Farmers’ Markets as well as events ranging from Yoga to outdoor movies.
  • Creating, funding and completing the Barton Creek Trail Corps project in 2011, resulting in nearly 11,000 hours in trail and restoration work along the 8.5 miles of the main Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail.  A crew of five worked full-time from Jan to Dec 2011, while over 1841 volunteers donated 4,543 hours at 27 separate volunteer workdays.  The project was done in collaboration with the City of Austin, Hill Country Conservancy and American Youthworks and many other volunteer groups. The major funder was Impact Austin.

The Austin Parks Foundation has engaged Greenlights for Nonprofit Success <> to provide leadership transition support until a new, permanent Executive Director can be hired. Gretchen Flatau will serve as interim executive director. Flatau has extensive prior experience as an executive director, with posts at the Women’s Advocacy Project, Recording for the Blind, the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin and College for All Texans.

About Austin Parks Foundation

Austin Parks Foundation has been protecting and preserving Austin’s parks by connecting people and resources to park improvements since 1992. In 2002, Austin Parks Foundation created It’s My Park Day to inspire community-wide public service focused on park improvement.  For more information, visit


Our office is moving!

6 01 2012

For the past three years, we’ve sub-leased office space from another non-profit, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) at 816 Congress Avenue.  The view from our 16th floor office is awesome, but the lease is up and our friends at TPL are moving to a much smaller office south of Lady Bird Lake.

So, thanks to help from our friends at the City Parks and Recreation Dept, we are moving to an office at the Austin Recreation Center at 1301 Shoal Creek Blvd effective Tuesday, January 17th. This is right next door to House Field as well as the new Skate/BMX Park.  The center has parking so if you need to visit us, that will be easier than coming to our current offices downtown.  We’re finalizing documents and plans to move and have re-painted the space this week and have new carpet coming next week.  We’re paying for these improvements as part of the agreement with the city.

Our new mailing address is:

Austin Parks Foundation

P.O. Box 300369

Austin, TX 78703-0007

Moving will most likely take place next Thursday Jan 12th at night and it will be a few days before we have everything put back together. So, count on us being up and running in our new location on Tuesday, Jan 17th.

What We’re Thankful For

2 12 2009

It’s the time of year when we like to think about it is we’re thankful for. We’d like to share with you some of the things Austin Parks Foundation has to be thankful for this year!

  • 17,500 acres of beautiful Austin parkland
  • More than 60 park-adopter groups, using our services to improve their neighborhood parks
  • The thousands of volunteers who attended It’s My Park Day, Project Build a Park, Trees for Pease events, and many others
  • The hundreds of trees planted last spring by volunteers that made it through the driest summer in recent memory
  • Fall rains restoring Austin to a brighter shade of green
  • Great partnerships with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department at all levels, from executive to maintenance crews
  • Our donors and members, who make it all possible.

Austin Parks Foundation is committed to providing the resources and partnerships that create and sustain beautiful and active parks. We need your help.

If you are not a member, won’t you join us today?

If you are already a member, consider making a special end-of-year gift to help us continue this important work?

We welcome your gift of any amount at

With sincere thanks,

Rosie and Charlie

Rosie Weaver, Outreach Director
Charlie McCabe, Executive Director

Austin Parks Foundation
816 Congress, Suite 1680
Austin, TX 78701
phone 512-477-1566
fax 512-477-1586

12/17/08: We’ve Moved Our Offices

18 12 2008

Ok, its official, we have our computers plugged in and we’re typing away in our new offices at 816 Congress, Suite 1680.  We’re sub-leasing from the fine folks at the Texas office of the Trust for Public Land.  Our new address is:

Austin Parks Foundation

816 Congress Avenue, Suite 1680

Austin TX 78701

All other contact points (phone, fax, email, website) remain the same.