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Craig Middleton Announces Departure

Middleton was Presidio Trust's First Employee and Longtime Executive Director


​​​​​Presidio of San Francisco (February 24, 2015) – Craig Middleton, Executive Director, announced today his intention to leave the Presidio Trust this year after 18 years. Mr. Middleton was the Trust’s first employee and has served as Executive Director for nearly 14 years.

​​”I have had the honor of leading the Presidio through an amazing chapter of transformation, including the achievement of financial self-sufficiency and some wonderful preservation successes and park-making accomplishments,” said Mr. Middleton. “After nearly two decades at the Presidio Trust, it is time for another leader to take the baton.”

Mr. Middleton added that he and the Trust’s Board of Directors have been discussing his transition for some time and believe that this is the right timing for the organization.

“The moment to change leadership is when you’re strong,” said Nancy Bechtle, Chair of the Presidio Trust Board of Directors. “The Presidio is in great shape, thanks in large part to Craig. We are unanimous in expressing our deep appreciation for his extraordinary public service on behalf of the Presidio and our community.”

​Middleton, 58, is recognized as steering the effort to save the Presidio as a public resource after Congress declared in 1989 that the historic Army post would close. He worked with Congresswoman Pelosi and her key aide, Judy Lemons, along with a host of luminaries from around the country, to develop an inventive concept that would ensure the Presidio’s longevity as a public resource. The Presidio Trust, an innovative federal agency, ushered in a new era of public-private partnership that has resulted in one of the most notable base closure successes and historic preservation projects in the nation. Under Mr. Middleton’s leadership the Presidio thrived, achieving the goal of financial self-sufficiency in 2013. The Trust now operates independent of federal funding.

“The park is beautiful, bustling with energy, and most critically, financially secure so that it can thrive for generations to come,” said Bechtle. “The Trust’s achievements under Craig’s watch have enabled us to dream about the future with confidence and optimism.”

During Mr. Middleton’s leadership, the agency attracted investment from public and private sources to revitalize 1,100 acres and nearly five million square feet of built space. He encouraged more than 200 organizations to locate in the park and has renovated 1,200 units of Army housing for a civilian community of 3,000 residents. Highlights of Mr. Middleton’s tenure include:

  • ​Fulfilling Congress’s most fundamental mandate by achieving financial self-sufficiency; more than $1 billion in investment has been made in the park, with each dollar of federal investment leveraging four dollars of non-federal support
  • Rehabilitating 375 historic buildings
  • Completing a $170M environmental cleanup consisting of 16 landfills, more than 500 fuel tanks, and extensive lead contamination
  • Redeveloping the Presidio’s 36-acre Public Health Service District as a multi-use campus; the project was the first in the nation to earn a LEED Neighborhood Development certification and won the Governor’s 2011 Historic Preservation Award
  • Restoring 65-acres of native vegetation and beginning revitalization of the Presidio’s 300-acre historic forest
  • Creating a comprehensive network of 24 miles of trails and eight scenic overlooks
  • Engaging 6,000 annual volunteers in park stewardship
  • Building a network of partnerships that deliver programs to 26,000 kids each year, including Camping at the Presidio, a program that provides 6,000 kids the opportunity to camp
  • Opening a meticulously-restored Presidio Officers’ Club, San Francisco’s most historic building, as a new public cultural venue
  • ​Establishing one of the most unique and innovative federal agencies

Mr. Middleton credits his team with delivering these achievements. “The staff and our volunteers,” he boasts, “are second to none in terms of creativity, commitment, and results. No one can hold a candle to my team.”

Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, was also a key player in shaping the vision of the Presidio. He and Craig have worked as partners for 22 years.

“It’s impossible to imagine what the Presidio would be like without Craig’s passion, political savvy, and steadfast commitment,” said Greg Moore. “Craig’s leadership has resulted in one of our nation’s most important, beautiful, and well-cared for national parks in any major city.  He has certainly delivered on his promise to Congress, the American public, the national park community, the Bay Area, and the people of San Francisco.”

The Presidio Trust will conduct a national search for a new executive director, with Mr. Middleton assisting in the recruitment effort and transition. The Trust will seek a proven leader who can advance the agency’s efforts to establish the Presidio as an important national site for visitors to enjoy, and a place that can provide positive transformational benefit far beyond its historic walls. “In the coming years we will focus on the many ways to share the Presidio experience with people from the Bay Area and beyond,” said Bechtle.

In his final months at the helm, Mr. Middleton will focus on a handful of critical initiatives, including the New Presidio Parklands Project connecting the Golden Gate waterfront to the center of the Presidio; the Presidio Institute at Fort Scott, which focuses on leadership and service; and the Trust’s maturing programmatic offerings. He remains characteristically optimistic about the future of the Presidio. “It’s a place of honor; a place with a certain majesty; a magical place,” he says.

As for his next endeavor, Mr. Middleton has not made any commitments. “My daughter was born just a week after I began working to create a new future for the Presidio,” he said. “She will graduate from college this year and I’ll graduate from the Presidio — it’s a good time to take a break and imagine what might come next.”

About the Presidio Trust

The Presidio Trust, a federal agency, is an innovation in the management of a treasured American place. The Trust was created to save the Presidio and transform it for a new national purpose. The Trust’s vision is that the Presidio will be forever a public place: vital to the Bay Area, important to all Americans, and recognized for achieving broad benefits for the nation. Today, t​he Presidio welcomes visitors, is home to a vibrant community of residents and tenants, and inspires greater good through programs that draw on its history and natural resources. The Presidio Trust serves the public with events, lodging, venues, and recreational opportunities. To learn more, visit ​

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