Tonia Lovejoy Named Executive Director
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park (Friends) is pleased to name Tonia Lovejoy as its new Executive Director. Ms. Lovejoy succeeds Todd Sampsell, as President (2019-2021). Ms. Lovejoy joined the Friends, a non-profit based on St. John that is dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural and cultural resources of Virgin Islands National Park, in 2016. Since that time she has made her mark effectively directing and expanding the organization’s fundraising efforts, notably following the hurricanes of 2017 and more recently during the pandemic.
“After a competitive hiring process, Tonia’s expertise, experience and work ethic stood out,” shared Chairman of the Board Andy Rutnik. “Her candidacy received unanimous approval from the Board of Directors. We look forward to supporting her leadership.”
In the coming months the organization will kick-off a new season of fun and educational events in VI National Park with the 9th Annual Paddle the Park event. On an annual basis the Friends supports financial and in-kind requests from the park to help protect and preserve its natural and cultural resources. Critical programs such as sea turtle nest protection and monitoring, native plant restoration, mangrove restoration, coral restoration, trail maintenance, and school field trips are made possible by the Friends. Funds are raised through membership dues, donations, grants and sponsorships.
Ms. Lovejoy brings a ‘world’ of perspective to the Friends as a former Peace Corps volunteer and blue water sailor. “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead such a purposeful, strong organization,” she said. “Our National Parks rely on philanthropic partners like the Friends to help them not just survive, but thrive. I look forward to ensuring that the Friends – its caring members, volunteers, donors and sponsors – continues to be our Park’s best friend.”