Presidio of San Francisco (November 27, 2012) -- The vision of creating a national campus focused on solving social challenges reached a milestone today with the appointment of social entrepreneur Greg Werkheiser as the project’s founding Director. The endeavor’s scope and scale make it one of the nation’s most ambitious undertakings to evolve the quality and impact of Americans’ public service.
“We conducted a lengthy national search for a proven entrepreneur in the service and leadership fields who is fearless, passionate and collaborative,” said Craig Middleton, Presidio Trust Executive Director. “We are thrilled that Greg has accepted the invitation to serve.”
The U.S. Army’s Fort Winfield Scott guarded the coastline during much of the Presidio’s tenure as America’s longest operating military base. By act of Congress, the Presidio’s 1,500 acres and 800 buildings became part of the world’s largest urban national park in 1996. Fort Scott is a prize site within the park. With 11 historic, Mission Revival style buildings arranged in a crescent overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, Fort Scott has long been imagined as a campus of national significance and enduring public purpose. The Presidio Trust, an innovative federal agency that has achieved financial independence for the park, will now convert Fort Scott into the National Center for Service and Innovative Leadership (NCSIL). The Center will be dedicated to evolving the way Americans provide leadership in service to community and country. Werkheiser’s appointment is a capstone to the two-year planning phase of the effort.
Werkheiser will tackle three big jobs in one: overseeing the transformation of up to 21 historic buildings in one of the world’s most celebrated destinations for use as classrooms, offices, lodging, dining and recreational facilities; leveraging partnerships to build groundbreaking programs that better prepare cross-sector leaders to solve society’s great challenges; and directing a substantial capital campaign.
Werkheiser brings 17 years of experience forging sector-crossing enterprises in the fields of social innovation, civic education, law, government and politics, and cultural heritage preservation. He has most recently served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason University, Virginia’s largest university, where he helped next generation leaders achieve greater impact in solving today’s social challenges. He created the bipartisan youth civic education programs of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, the successes of which were celebrated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in the book Educating for Democracy: Preparing Undergraduates for Responsible Political Engagement (Jossey-Bass 2007). Werkheiser chaired the Virginia Commission for National and Community Service, leading the state body charged with overseeing AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other national and state service programs.
“Greg Werkheiser brings creativity and commitment to efforts to build and strengthen civic engagement and community leadership, and he is an excellent choice for this unique opportunity,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a longtime collaborator with Werkheiser on civic engagement initiatives.
Werkheiser has held public service roles at the White House, U.S. Information Agency, U.S. Embassy in Paris, Congressional Management Foundation and Virginia General Assembly. He has run for public office, securing the endorsement of The Washington Post in “the marquee race for the Virginia legislature.” Werkheiser is also an award-winning lawyer and co-founder of a national law firm focused on cultural heritage preservation. He earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.
“I cannot imagine anyone better able to lead the new Center than Greg,” said Tom Ehrlich of Stanford’s School of Education and pioneer of the service and leadership movements who led a three-year study of Werkheiser’s civic education programs.
The NCSIL aims to address the great challenges of our time by inspiring transformative collaboration between innovators in the fields of social entrepreneurship, national service, political engagement, corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, philanthropy, and military service, among others. Working with a spectrum of partners, the NCSIL will develop new generations of cross-sector leaders, convene existing leaders to achieve greater impact, conduct research into pioneering new solutions to social challenges, and recognize exemplary service leaders across the country. A federal advisory committee is being assembled with leaders representing all sectors.
“The nation has an unprecedented opportunity by virtue of Fort Scott’s scale, location, and symbolism,” explained Werkheiser. “Our world is complex and our challenges are global—we can build a destination in which we develop sophisticated leadership that will solve these challenges. I am inspired by the Trust’s vision, deeply humbled by this opportunity, fully aware that our success depends on teamwork and partnership, and eager to begin.” Werkheiser assumes the post on January 2, 2013.
The Presidio Trust is an innovative federal agency established by Congress in 1996 to save an historic American landmark and transform it to serve a new national purpose. Established as a military outpost by New Spain in 1776, and later claimed by Mexico and the U.S., the Presidio was the United States’ longest continuously operating military base. The park comprises nearly 6 million square feet in 800 buildings, including 469 historic structures that contribute to the Presidio's status as a National Historic Landmark District, as well as hundreds of acres of natural areas. Today, more than 8,000 people live, work, or attend school in the Presidio, preserving its character as a community. The Presidio’s transformation into a financially self-sustaining national park is among the country’s most remarkable military base realignments, drawing on funding and expertise from every sector.