Greenbelt Alliance Welcomes New Executive Director

April 22, 2008 (Earth Day)

Elizabeth Stampe, Communications Director, (415) 543-6771 x307
Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director, (415) 543-6771

Greenbelt Alliance Welcomes New Executive Director

50-year-old Bay Area institution advocates for “open spaces and vibrant places”

Jeremy Madsen moved from San Francisco Foundation; combines commitment to justice and equity with green outlook

San Francisco – Greenbelt Alliance is welcoming Jeremy Madsen as its new Executive Director. Madsen, who started the job April 21, is no stranger to the Bay Area’s leading land conservation and urban planning non-profit; he was its field director from 2001 to 2005.

“We are excited to welcome Jeremy back to Greenbelt Alliance as Executive Director. Our board conducted a major nationwide search, and for all of us, at the end of the day, he was the clear choice,” said Jean McCown, Greenbelt Alliance board president.

“Jeremy has a deep understanding of the full breadth of Greenbelt Alliance’s mission—both our urban work and our conservation efforts. He knows our partners, he knows the region, and with his experience and energy, I’m confident we can achieve our vision for the Bay Area’s future.”

A recognized leader
Madsen comes to Greenbelt Alliance an already recognized leader in making the Bay Area a better place to live. Madsen’s most recent position was at the San Francisco Foundation, where he helped launch the Great Communities Collaborative, a coordinated effort among non-profits and community foundations to create walkable neighborhoods around Bay Area transit stations.

Madsen is a graduate of George Washington University and the University of Oregon. Before coming to the Bay Area, Madsen served as field director for the Transportation Choices Coalition in Seattle, coordinated public policy campaigns in support of fair trade, and led get-out-the-vote efforts.

Greenbelt Alliance turns 50
Greenbelt Alliance celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It will mark the occasion with a San Francisco event on September 10, where those who have helped protect the Bay Area’s farmland can gather to enjoy some of its bounty: its famed local food and wine. (Event tickets are not yet on sale but the event will be open to the public, with a reduced price for members.)

Madsen will be the fifth executive director the organization has had; he succeeds Tom Steinbach, who served for eight years and is now with the Hewlett Foundation. Interim director Mike Howe, who previously directed the East Bay Community Foundation, will remain on Greenbelt Alliance’s board.

Madsen is eager to lead the 50-year-old nonprofit into its next stage.

“Right now, Greenbelt Alliance has the opportunity to bring the Bay Area together around sustainable, equitable development in the face of climate change,” said Madsen.

“We’re looking at nine million people living here by 2035. Planning for that growth won’t be easy—but it’s an exciting challenge. If the Bay Area gets it right, it could be a model for the nation and the world.”

Collaboration is the way to succeed, Madsen said. “Greenbelt Alliance is respected across many different constituencies, including the business, environmental, and social equity communities,” he observed. “This is an organization with an incredible network of partners and supporters.”

A broad vision
Madsen is especially committed to expanding awareness of Greenbelt Alliance’s mission to advocate for “open spaces and vibrant places” throughout the Bay Area, and bringing his commitment to social justice to his new role.

“Greenbelt Alliance sees the whole picture. It’s not just about protecting the environment—it’s also about creating vibrant cities and towns that are great places for everyone to live,” he said.

Madsen explained that the organization advocates for smart growth—creating a mix of shops, offices, and homes, including affordable homes, in city centers, close to jobs and public transit.  Greenbelt Alliance endorses proposed developments that meet specific guidelines. The non-profit also works with local residents and elected officials to encourage downtown development and discourage sprawl in outlying areas.

Walking the talk
Madsen lives with his wife Sarah and daughter Stella in Alameda, and enjoys it. “On quiet weekends, we can walk out the door to a nearby playground. If we walk the other way, we can visit a bagel shop or the ice cream store. It’s all within a half-mile of where we live,” said Madsen. “That’s what makes living in the Bay Area special.”

“I’m looking forward to helping the region grow in a way that preserves and creates more of these special places—so the whole community can enjoy the Bay Area.”


For 50 years, Greenbelt Alliance has been the San Francisco Bay Area’s advocate for open spaces and vibrant places, with offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa.

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