WASHINGTON: Former Ogilvy PR North America CEO Robert Mathias has joined the National Park Foundation as chief of external affairs, overseeing marketing, comms, and governmental affairs in a newly created role.
The foundation is a nonprofit created by Congress to accept and administer charitable gifts on behalf of the Park Service.
"The chief of external affairs is a new position, and it’s the first time the foundation has grouped marketing, comms, and governmental affairs under a single individual," Mathias said.
With more than 20 direct reports including Jason Rano, VP of government relations, he is reporting to COO Dieter Fenkart-Froeschl. Mathias started in the role about three weeks ago.
"The great thing, from a comms person’s standpoint is there is so much to work with and so much richness all around me," said Mathias, who added that he plans to use multiple channels to tell the foundation’s story "a little differently and a bit more aggressively than we have been."
"We will be continuing to push and drive the National Park Foundation brand," he added. "I’m so proud of our partnership with the National Park Service, but I want to make sure the National Park Foundation brand is also known and recognized."
Mathias said he is planning to increase the foundation’s digital comms efforts, honing its overall narrative and supporting it with some of the group’s untold success stories. "There’s really just a large variety of stories that are untapped," he said.
Mathias has been a longtime supporter of national parks and has been a volunteer member of the board of trustees of Yellowstone Forever, a nonprofit that supports Yellowstone National Park. It’s one of the main reasons, he said, that he took the new position. "This is a passion play for me, not a power play," Mathias said.
The position is Mathias’ first since he left Ogilvy at the end of 2016. He had worked at Ogilvy since 1988, leading its San Francisco office and later its Washington operations. Mathias stepped into the role of regional CEO for North America in early 2013. Ogilvy began restructuring its agencies into one P&L in 2017.