Bud Johns: Creating a Lasting Legacy

Perhaps best known for his invention of the sport, “Ride and Tie” (a sport combining running, horseback riding, and endurance), Bud Johns is best known to us for his 24 years on the Board of Greenbelt Alliance.

When Bud came to the Bay Area in 1961, he immediately recognized what makes this place special—the stunning beauty of the Bay Area’s natural landscapes. After seeing the harmful effects of sprawl in other areas throughout the country, Bud wanted to get involved with an organization that worked to stop inappropriate development on critical lands throughout the region.

“Greenbelt Alliance really protects our way of life. I’ve loved the organization for a long time.”

Bud began his tenure on the Board back in 1984 when Greenbelt Alliance was known as “People for Open Space.” He has been a loyal supporter of the organization ever since. “The financial state of the organization wasn’t always great back then. At times, we struggled as we’d wait for another grant to come in.”

That’s when Bud and another Board member, Jerry Tone, got together and pitched the idea of starting an endowment—an investment fund that supports Greenbelt Alliance’s operations in perpetuity.

“It wasn’t easy but we decided to budget part of the annual budget to go towards the endowment to build it up. We also mandated that any bequests, unless otherwise stated, would be directed to the endowment.”

Today, legacy gifts such as bequests continue to be crucial to growing Greenbelt Alliance’s endowment. Part of Bud’s legacy, the endowment now stands at over $1.5 million-a testament to Bud and past Board members who prioritized the organization’s financial stability.

“Planned gifts to the endowment from an estate, will, or trust provide stability to the organization we love.”

For Bud, it’s all about the people who have kept him connected to Greenbelt Alliance and its work over the years. Regarding our work to fight sprawl in the Bay Area, Bud says:

“It’s a constant battle. There are always pressures—now more than ever. But the people working on these issues have always inspired me.”

As a former President of the Board, Bud still recognizes several people involved in Greenbelt Alliance today. Bob Berman, Mark Evanoff, and others advised on the most recent At Risk report released in 2017, and Bud was glad to see recognizable names still involved with ongoing policy work.

Bud was on the Board when they originally hired Jeremy Madsen as a Field Director and later was our CEO for many years. As Board President, Bud recruited many members, five of whom still sit on Greenbelt Alliance’s current Board of Directors. Many of Bud’s friends and neighbors have helped the organization grow from its roots into a leading environmental advocacy organization in the Bay Area.

“A lot of people may not be aware of how instrumental Greenbelt Alliance has been in shaping the Bay Area. It has been wonderful to watch the organization grow.”

Learn more about contributing to Greenbelt Alliance through planned giving here.

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