Trust Announces New Board Members, Corporate Leadership Council

The Trust for the National Mall, a non-profit dedicated to transforming the visitor experience and preserving the historic legacy of the National Mall through private donations, begins the first half of the year with momentum on board leadership and corporate engagement. These new corporate partners and notable individuals deliver an investment in the Trust’s ongoing work to accelerate progress through philanthropy to address needed improvements on the National Mall, help sustain an urban park facing unprecedented use by the public, and create opportunities for a greater volume and diversity of programming available to visitors.

In the past year, the Trust has added four distinguished new members to its board of directors, representing a diversity of industries and backgrounds. Each new member will serve a four year term, including committee assignments that draw on their respective areas of expertise.

“The board of directors remains the leading champions through which the Trust for the National Mall will deliver its patriotic mission,” said Trust founder and chairman, Chip Akridge. “Each new member of our board has expressed unwavering commitment to enhancing our beloved national treasure, and we know each will support initiatives to which they can bring their unique ideas and expertise.”


Jenne K. Britell, Ph.D.

Chair, United Rentals

Jenne K. Britell, Ph.D., is the chairman of the board of United Rentals, Inc., the world’s largest equipment rental company. She is also a director of Quest Diagnostics, Inc., the U.S. Russia Foundation for Entrepreneurship and the Rule of Law, and the board of the Santa Fe Opera. Britell was named the 2011 Director of the Year of a public company by the National Association of Corporate Directors.  She was also named one of six Outstanding Directors of Public Companies for 2011 by the Outstanding Directors Exchange, a division of the Financial Times.  In early 2012, Britell was elected as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


David Geanacopoulos

Senior Executive Vice President for Public Affairs and Public Policy, Volkswagen Group of America

David Geanacopoulos joined Volkswagen in 2003 as vice president for government relations and later served as EVP for public affairs and general counsel before being named to his current positon. Prior to that he was a partner in the firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, & Feld. Geanacopoulos serves on the boards of directors of the American Council on Germany, the Economic Club of Washington, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He is also chairman of the advisory board of VSA Arts, Inc., an affiliate of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


Sheila C. Johnson

Founder & CEO, Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Sheila C. Johnson is founder & CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, overseeing a growing portfolio of luxury properties. Johnson also serves as vice chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment and president and managing partner of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. Johnson was a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television. In 2016, she co-founded WE Capital, a venture capital consortium to support female-led enterprises that can advance transformational social change.  She also served five years on the executive committee of the United States Golf Association. A fervent supporter of education, Johnson serves on the board of governors of Parsons The New School for Design, and founded the Sheila C. Johnson Leadership Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership, which supports emerging leaders who share a commitment to reducing disparities in African-American communities.  She is also a board member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation and founder and chair of the Middleburg Film Festival. Johnson has recently committed a $1 million lead gift to begin the fundraising effort for a redesigned U.S. Park Police Horse Stables on the National Mall.


Edward L. Samek

Retired Chairman & CEO, The MRC Group and Former Chair, Friends of Acadia National Park

Edward L. Samek is the retired chairman & CEO of The MRC Group. Earlier he served as president of Childcraft Education Corporation, president & CEO of Hudson Pharmaceutical Corporation, and president & CEO of SecrePhone Medical Transcription, Ltd. He has been a member and advisor on numerous corporate boards, including Alliance Healthcare Services, MedPlus, CareMedic, Veritext, WaterJel, Third Millennium Healthcare, and as vice chair of Medquist. In addition to his leadership of Friends of Acadia, Samek has served on other community and not-for-profit boards. Currently he is on the board of Friends of Acadia and on the board of advisors of the National Park Conservation Association, Northeast Region. Past involvements include serving as treasurer and finance chair of The Jackson Laboratory, president of the board of The Hartridge School, and a member of the executive committee of the Wardlaw-Hartridge School.

For a complete list of board of directors members for the Trust, click here.

The newly-formed Corporate Leadership Council offers executives the opportunity to be engaged with a Washington-based organization that delivers significant national impact.

Founding members of the council include premier-level supporter PNC Bank and general members Altria Group, BP of America, Chevron Corporation, Financial Services Roundtable, Venable LLP and Volkswagen Group of America. These distinguished and influential leaders will play an instrumental role in advancing the mission of the only non-profit exclusively dedicated to improving the National Mall.

Member benefits include twice-annual meetings with special guests and content, employee participation in service days on the National Mall, invitation to project-related activities, and recognition at the Trust’s annual benefit event, among other benefits.

“Corporate leaders play a significant role in advancing meaningful progress on philanthropic initiatives, and the collective power of our council members has the potential to make a meaningful difference” noted Catherine Townsend, president & CEO of the Trust. “The leaders we are assembling bring passion, creativity and industry insights that can generate increased awareness amongst their peers, the public, and policy makers for the urgent needs on the National Mall and spark new ideas for how to address the monumental challenges.”

The group held its inaugural meeting in February to hear from U.S. Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6) about the implications of recent tax reform. The next meeting will be held on Sept. 20. The council is open now to new members at both the premier and general membership levels, with as many as ten new members expected to be added by the end of the year. For more information on how to join the Corporate Leadership Council,


About the Trust for the National Mall   

Celebrating over ten years of partnership with the National Park Service, the Trust for the National Mall seeks private support to design and deliver modern and resilient solutions that will transform the visitor experience and preserve the historic legacy of the National Mall. The beloved but well-worn National Mall hosts more than 35 million visits annually but requires more than $800 million in deferred maintenance and needed upgrades. This public-private partnership is a model for bringing critical resources to the National Mall to supplement federal funds.