Executive Director

Sophie Twichell

Sophie joined the National Recreation Foundation in 2014 as its executive director after spending 25 years in the nonprofit sector. She served as the executive director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods, Illinois for over ten years. There she identified which segments of the community were not users of public open space, and then launched a series of successful programs to engage these populations with green space, thereby affording access to the myriad of health benefits derived by time in nature. Prior to that, she managed international conservation programs for The Field Museum in Chicago and served as assistant director of the Lake Michigan Federation, today’s Alliance for the Great Lakes. Active in her community, Sophie is a member of the Lake County Health Department’s Live Well Lake County Steering Committee and the Be Active Action Team, in addition to the Lake Forest Garden Club and the Woman's Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society. She serves on the boards of the EcoMyths Alliance, Lake Bluff Open Lands, Lake Forest Open Lands and Nature’s Edge.  Sophie graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in cultural anthropology, and she earned her law degree with honors from the Chicago-Kent College of Law with a certificate in Environmental & Energy Law. Email Sophie.

Charles E. Hartsoe Fellow

Ryan Zwart

Ryan is a Ph.D. student at Indiana University’s School of Public Health, studying Leisure Behavior within the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism studies. Ryan received a M.S. in Recreation Administration from Indiana University Bloomington, a B.S.R in Recreation and leisure studies, with an emphasis on community development and youth leadership, and a B.S. in Psychology from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ryan has experience working with youth and young adults in the private, not-for-profit, and public sectors with a focus on pre-college and college aged populations. His academic emphases are in motivation and outcomes of outdoor recreation, leadership, and community development. Upon graduation, he hopes to work in higher education, developing outdoor recreation programs and teaching in the field of recreation and leisure studies. Email Ryan.

The National Recreation Foundation accepts no unsolicited grant proposals.
Grants are only generated by its Trustees.