Archived Outdoors

New MST director named

Brent Laurenz, deputy director for the voting rights nonprofit Common Cause in North Carolina, will be the next leader of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the organization has announced. 

Laurenz, of Raleigh, has been in his current position since 2015 and prior to that served as executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education. At the American Battlefield Trust based in Washington, D.C., he was a government relations associate focused primarily on Virginia and Tennessee. 

Laurenz will succeed Kate Dixon, who is retiring after joining the MST in 2008 as its first executive director. 

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers, along with local and state leaders, North Carolina is at the forefront of trails and parks programs in this country,” said Laurenz. “I look forward to working with such committed partners and others to build on those successes.” 

The MST is a 1,175-mile walking trail that stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks, connecting 37 counties. Laurenz enters the organization just as the N.C. General Assembly and Governor Roy Cooper passed a new state budget that includes $29.25 million of new trail funding, including the MST. 

Friends will celebrate Laurenz’s arrival at its annual Gathering of Friends April 7-10 at Lake Junaluska. The agenda will include honors for Kate Dixon, the only executive director in Friends’ history. 

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