Friends of GR Parks names executive director

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Stacy Bare. Courtesy Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

A Grand Rapids nonprofit focused on community cultivation of parks and green spaces chose its new executive director after a nationwide search.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks named Stacy Bare its new executive director, effective Feb. 1. He brings more than a decade of experience striving to get more people outside.

“I’m a passionate believer in the role parks play in the health of communities and people, and I’m super excited to join Friends,” Bare said. “I’ve spent my career primarily focused on the transformative and healing power of the outdoors and am excited to continue that work in Grand Rapids.”

In his new position, Bare will work with Friends’ board of directors to raise $1.5 million to invest in Grand Rapids’ park spaces and plant trees across the city.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Board President Lee Mueller said the organization looks forward to introducing the Grand Rapids community to Bare and his family.

“Stacy brings with him a wealth of passion and experience in outdoor recreation at a national level,” Mueller said. “We’re excited by his track record of promoting outdoor recreation and his excitement for helping everyone experience the benefits of time outside.”

Bare succeeds former executive director Stephanie Adams, who stepped down from the position in November, as the Business Journal previously reported. During her time serving the organization, Friends said Adams solidified the organization’s financial position, strengthened partnerships with the city and community organizations, and championed a team culture that promoted the organization’s mission.

Bare previously led an initiative with national environmental organization Sierra Club to expand outdoor recreation participation among youth, military members and people of color. He first served the organization as a military and veterans affairs coordinator and later became director of Sierra Club Outdoors.

Since 2015, Bare has offered process improvement consulting services focused on health, wellness, and the outdoors through Bare LLC. He also served as national board director for the American Alpine Club and co-founded Veterans Expeditions where he served from 2010 to 2014. As former executive director of the organization, he later transitioned to board member to continue to help veterans to overcome challenges associated with military service through outdoor training and leadership.

He also launched the Great Outdoors Lab study in partnership with University of California-Berkeley Professor Dacher Keitner to understand the science of how time outside impacts biological and emotional effects on individuals.

He holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning, urban design and development from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Mississippi.

Bare — a military veteran who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Georgia — currently lives in Utah with his family. He enjoys camping, mountain biking and Nordic skiing and said he is “super excited” about how big his ice beard can get as he learns to paddle the Great Lakes in the winter.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know Grand Rapids. With family roots in Michigan, my family and I have been looking for an opportunity to move to the Great Lakes region,” he said.

More information is at friendsofgrparks.org.

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