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Ken Olson's Lessons Learned as a Friends CEO 1

NPS Partner Ken Olson
Friends Alliance President Curt Buchholtz asked me to comment, on the eve of my (working) retirement as President of the Friends of Acadia, on "lessons learned" in my ten years as a friends CEO. I will incorporate some things from thirty-one years in nonprofits.

Much of what I've learned at Friends of Acadia came from watching friends leaders and Park Service officials operate. There are some real masters in this business. I don't pretend to have a corner on running a park philanthropy.

Some of what you'll hear is peculiar to me or to the particular circumstances of Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park. I'm definitely not suggesting that how Ken Olson does things is any better than how many other execs do what they do.

Adapted by the National Park Service, with the author's permission, from an edited version of a speech to the National Park Friends Alliance, given at the Eisenhower Hotel, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, October 7, 2005. Permission to reprint free in any medium is hereby granted. Copyright W. Kent Olson 2005.

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