Mary Pope M. Hutson ’83, Sweet Briar’s vice president for alumnae relations and development, was recently appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board. At the board’s meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 27, she was elected to serve as chair.
The board was established in 1935 to provide counsel to the director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior on matters relating to the National Park Service, including recommendations about the designation of national historic and natural landmarks, and national historic trails. The board consists of up to 12 members, all of whom must have demonstrated a commitment to the mission of the National Park Service.
“It is truly an honor to serve our country in this capacity,” Hutson said. “After so many years working in conservation on a national, state and local level, I am humbled to have the opportunity to offer my expertise and guidance to the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior.”
Sweet Briar College President Meredith Woo was not surprised by Hutson’s appointment, nor her election as chair. “Mary Pope has shown tremendous leadership at Sweet Briar and throughout her impressive career,” Woo said. “Her advocacy for our natural and built environment is remarkable and without her, the College would not be where we are today. The National Park System Advisory Board is wise to have chosen such a knowledgeable and resilient leader.”
Hutson joined Sweet Briar College in January 2016 as the vice president for alumnae relations and development. Before that, she served as a volunteer member of the Saving Sweet Briar effort and spent six months on the new Sweet Briar Board of Directors formed in July 2015 after the College was saved by its alumnae, friends and supporters. She has built a team in the alumnae relations and development office and worked with the 14,000 alumnae to rebuild the College, raising 63.9 million for Sweet Briar over the last four years. Over the past year, she has also helped to spearhead the College’s increased investment in conservation and artisanal agriculture.
Before returning to Sweet Briar, Hutson was executive vice president of the Land Trust Alliance in Washington, D.C., a national land conservation organization, for 13 years. In that executive role, she was a principal spokeswoman and fundraiser and managed the national public policy program for all conservation groups in the United States.
Hutson also was executive director of the Lowcountry Open Land Trust in Charleston and the first woman appointed to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Board in 1995, setting state policies for land and water resources. She helped start the “Becoming an Outdoor Woman” group in South Carolina, one of the first such groups in the nation. She also served as the only woman on the North American Wetlands Conservation Act Council for 13 years, appointed by three secretaries of the Department of the Interior and has been a committed mentor to young men and women in conservation. Throughout her professional career, Hutson has worked to build and foster coalitions in the public and private sector, and raised resources primarily for land conservation and historic preservation.
Earlier in her career, she also worked for three years in the U.S. Embassy in Kenya as a special assistant to the U.S. ambassador; for the Historic Charleston Foundation managing heritage tours and educational programs; for the Office of Territorial and International Affairs at the Department of the Interior in the U.S. Virgin Islands; and as Guam desk officer and a staffer in the U.S. Senate.
Read more about the National Park System Advisory Board and its membership on their website.