After nearly 20 years, Dru Schmidt-Perkins is stepping down as head of 1000 Friends of Maryland.
Schmidt-Perkins, president and CEO of the organization, announced her decision today.
“I made a commitment to stay for two years and now — 19 incredible years later — I have decided it’s time to try something new,” Schmidt-Perkins said in a statement.
Reached by phone, Schmidt-Perkins said she expects to leave her job by early November, so the organization’s board of directors will have time to find a successor for a smooth transition and she can wrap up projects that she is working on. The board of directors intends to start a search for her replacement this spring.
1000 Friends of Maryland was formed in 1994 to bring together businesses, developers, environmentalists, transportation advocates, community leaders, architects and planners to work toward development patterns in Maryland that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. It began with volunteers.
In 1998, the organization hired its first staff. Since then, it’s been a strong voice for smarter growth in Maryland, advocating at the state and local levels. During this time, Schmidt-Perkins became a well-known and respected presence in Annapolis during Maryland’s legislative sessions.
The organization has had a number of accomplishments, including building strong coalitions at the county level to help shape future development patterns; creating new programs such as the historic tax credit and Rural Legacy programs; improving programs to clean up toxic brownfields; reducing the number of major new subdivisions in rural areas; and ensuring that dedicated funds are actually spent on Program Open Space.
“It has been an honor to be part of the creation of a new organization and movement,” Schmidt-Perkins said. “Our work to improve land use and development policy has been challenging and exciting, and it has been rewarded with victories large and small. I think back to our start in a single room rented from AIA Baltimore, and now we have a statewide effort operating out of our beautiful brownstone building in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.”
“People are often surprised at how small the organization actually is,” said Dale Sams, chairman of the board, in a statement. “But when you have a strong team, smart strategy, and create effective coalitions you can have a powerful impact. The staff at 1000 Friends are truly remarkable. They are tenacious and nimble in each campaign.”
“Today we see the impact everywhere,” Sims continued, “including new state laws, stronger regulations and programs that support smart development, and transformational land use plans at the local level that protect waterways, strengthen neighborhoods, and protect rural areas from sprawling development.”
Sams thanked Schmidt-Perkins for her service. “Dru’s vision, leadership, commitment, dry sense of humor, and boundless energy will be sorely missed at 1000 Friends,” he said.