Incumbent, endorsed by Nominating Committee
Leadership You Can Trust!
The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) has a unique mission and organizational structure. Leading the Club requires a president with exceptional leadership skills and experience. A president must show an ability to foster good relations with various external organizations, and balance competing interests among our members. These attributes are essential to achieve our mission to maintain and protect the trails. I served four and one-half years as treasurer and three years as president. During that time, I worked to strengthen our financial position, improve staff and financial management, worked collaboratively with Council to improve our governance, expanded membership participation in our officer elections, and brought more cohesion and stability to our operations. We also responded successfully to the pandemic and advocacy to support the trails. It is an honor to accept the endorsement of the Nominating Committee for a second term as president. Suppose I receive your support to serve another term. In that case, you will have an experienced president to guide our post-pandemic recovery and work to build the pipeline of tomorrow's volunteers and leadership. Ours is a time calling for leadership continuity; I humbly ask for your vote—for the proven leadership you can trust to build our foundation for the future!
Joe Lombardo, PATC President
Effective leadership of an organization like PATC requires deft skill and experience in managing a decentralized organization. Our Club requires a president with an ability to foster and maintain good relations with a diverse group of external and internal stakeholders and forge a consensus from among a variety of competing interests to arrive at decisions that benefit the Club. The president must bring to the position the diplomatic and negotiating skills to strike the right balance in defending the independence of PATC while engaging effectively in the cooperative management of the trails with many different organizations. The president needs to strike the right balance in the advocacy and public policy positions we take to develop a consensus among our members' diverse views in ways that foster internal cohesion and support. To fulfill the office's duties requires the ability to understand how to develop effective internal policies and governance structures and processes to create and maintain operations to support our mission.
Since my Club's leadership involvement beginning in mid-2013, I demonstrated those skills through many positive contributions to the Club. The result is the respect the Club enjoys within the trail community. In nearly seven and one-half years in leadership positions—as treasurer (2013–2017) and as president (2018-present)—my focus has been on several vital areas that benefited the Club. As treasurer, I put in place several measures to improve the financial management of the Club, which laid the groundwork for the "unqualified audit opinion" we received this year—the highest rating an audit can receive. We better integrated the financial records of chapters and special interest sections into the Club's overall financial accounting and management systems. We hired competent staff to manage our financial and accounting functions and developed policies and procedures that brought the Club into full compliance with IRS and State laws and regulations.
As president, I worked collaboratively with other elected officers and Council members to develop management systems and reforms that have improved our Club's governance's accountability and transparency. We now publish our Council agenda ahead of the meeting so interested members know what matters we will be deliberating. We also now print a summary of Council meeting minutes in the Potomac Appalachian (PA) newsletter and provide members with information on how to access the full approved minutes of Council meetings. I routinely use my monthly column in the PA to keep our members up to date on the latest developments within the Club. We have revised our personnel policies to streamline staff management and placed the staff director under the president's direct supervision for greater accountability. We formalized our personnel oversight function in our Executive Committee (ExCom) to improve staff management consistency.
We reformed the officer election process and voting procedures to make it easier for members to run for office and increase voter participation in the Club's elections. One significant result is that this year's slate of candidates includes two members from chapters who will sit on ExCom. This last achievement will enhance the role chapters play within the Club's executive leadership. We achieved these successes by building an inclusive process whereby ExCom members can contribute to proposing needed reforms. Thus, while not all these ideas originated with me, passing these measures required my concerted effort to build the consensus and work out the compromises needed for ExCom and Council approval.
Old Rag Dedication Ceremony; Shown Left-Right: John Hedrick, PATC VP Ops; Jennifer Flynn, Fmr. SNP Superintendent; Joe Lombardo, PATC President
I showed my ability to take on the arduous tasks of management and leadership. Early in my tenure, for example, when it became necessary, I worked with ExCom to make needed staff changes to restore sound operational and management practices to the Club. When the pandemic hit, I quickly organized the Club's response and have since been leading—in close coordination with staff, ExCom, and Council—the process of reopening our operations. My engagement and successful negotiations with organizations, such as the National Park Service and US Forest Service, led to an agreement on keeping our volunteers on the job during government shutdowns. My negotiations with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) leadership and board of directors on pandemic related issues allowed us to build on our mutual respect for each organization's respective authorities and responsibilities. These negotiations allowed PATC to work with the individual land managers on the terms and conditions for our volunteers to resume trail work much sooner than otherwise would have been possible. Working closely with the Club's geographic chapters allowed us to restart our hikes program and public policy advocacy related to pipeline proposals.
In all cases, I seek to work out a consensus that balances competing interests that produce decisions we can all live with. As a result, chapters and sections developed a renewed recognition of the need to forge Club-endorsed positions to strengthen PATC's influence on public policy issues affecting the trails. By speaking with one voice, we enhance the Club's relevance and respect among our key external stakeholders, such as those in the Federal and State governments and the Congress and with affiliate organizations, such as ATC and the other trail maintaining clubs. The recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act provides full funding of the Land and Conservation Fund. These resources will help fund the backlog of infrastructure and maintenance projects on National Park and National Forest lands. It is a clear example of how a united PATC can advocate on behalf of our mission. During my tenure, we also reinvigorated our relationship with sister organizations, such as the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group (SMRG) and the Potomac Heritage Trail Association (PHTA).
Should you elect me for a second term, I pledge to continue these efforts. Working together with our staff, officers, and external partners will further expand and strengthen our organization's ability to fulfill our mission to maintain and protect the trails. Several initiatives will gain importance as move into the new term. These include a focus on developing the communications, outreach, and programs that will attract new members to help build the pipeline of tomorrow's volunteers and leadership. We will continue to work to strengthen our financial situation, particularly in the recovery of our financial position because of the pandemic, and ensure we consider the diversity of views within the Club as we move the PATC forward. I ask for your vote—a vote for the proven leadership you can trust!