Skip to content

Meet Our Team

RWPC leads community engagement around the park's transformation. Once construction is complete, the RWPC will work closely with the City of Buffalo to operate, program, and promote the park.

Katie Campos, Executive Director

Born and raised in Buffalo, Katie is deeply committed to the vision and mission of the Conservancy. “It is an honor to work alongside our community to realize our biggest dreams about what a world-class waterfront park can be: a safe, inclusive, vibrant place to gather, have fun, and be inspired.” Katie was hired as the Inaugural Executive Director of the Conservancy in October 2022, following a national search.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I’m passionate about Buffalo; I’m committed to ensuring our community is the best place to grow up! I grew up in the City of Buffalo and now live on the west side with my wife, Erin and our twins, Ruth and Leo. The former LaSalle Park was central to my life – we grew up running around the playgrounds, playing soccer, and watching the sunset there. My work to date has been focused on educational equity – I believe deeply in the unlimited potential of people (especially kids!) and I’m committed to making sure that kids growing up in Buffalo have access to high quality opportunities.  

Why this role? Ralph Wilson Park will be a place for everyone in our community to gather, celebrate, play, and find wonderment. I’m inspired daily by the Conservancy’s commitment to our community. Ralph Wilson Park was dreamed up by our community (Imagine LaSalle). Embedded in the community’s vision of the park is a responsibility to protect the environment as a long-term investment in our community. I will steward our community’s vision to deliver and maintain a safe, accessible and inclusive world-class park.  

What are you most looking forward to about RWP? It will be beautiful. I’m most excited that we are building a resilient shoreline that will ease the impact of storms, decrease flooding and flood damage, and ensure that RWP is a place we can enjoy for generations.

Mark McGovern, Director of Park Operations

“I am humbled to have an opportunity to work in collaboration with the City of Buffalo and a vast array of community members and stakeholders to steward park operations in a holistic, science-based approach ensuring the sustainability of the significant investment for future generations to enjoy.”  Mark joined the Conservancy in January 2024.

Tell us a bit about yourself: I landed in Buffalo post my graduate education at the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning and am grateful I have been able to witness and participate in a littany of  truly transformational vertical development projects contributing to Buffalo’s ongoing renaissance.  The more I travel, the more I appreciate the historical and cultural assets, arts and entertainment and giving nature of the people that make up Western New York. 

Why this role?  The redevelopment of Ralph Wilson Park hits on all my personal interests – community betterment, landscape development, environmental stewardship and not to sound cliche, but making the world a better place.  Ralph Wilson Park will be a venue where a myriad of diverse populations gather for active enjoyment and  leisurely contemplation of the grandeur of the truly unique setting along the shores of Lake Erie.

What are you most looking forward to about RWP? I view the whole redevelopment underway as a collection of learning opportunties that eventually will lead to a refreshed park that functions as a living laboratory which we can use to teach and inspire folks about environmental habitats, ecology, health and wellness and the importance of place. 

Kari Bonaro, Director of Administration & Engagement

“From day one of Imagine LaSalle, collaboration has been at the heart of the journey. Other parks now look to that process as a model of success. Our team is committed to listening and growing partnerships during construction and well beyond.” Kari has supported the Conservancy as a consultant since 2021 and officially joined the team in January 2024.

Tell us a bit about yourself: Before relocating to Buffalo, I lived in Washington, DC and New York City, working with national foundations, not-for-profit organizations, and academic centers dedicated to advancing social change. Moving back to Buffalo gave me the opportunity to continue this type work with innovative organizations having a more direct impact on our community. I live in the city of Buffalo with my family and spend a ton of time in our city parks through youth sports, walking my dog, biking – we are so fortunate to have as much greenspace!

Why this role: I worked with the Conservancy as it was starting up, and was thrilled when Katie asked me to join her team. The people who have been working on this project for so long have so much passion – it’s impossible not to be excited about the work! A community-led design process has resulted in the transformation of a beloved park, thanks to the funding and support of so many partners and individuals. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?

What are you most looking forward at RWP? The next few years will be really exciting as the shoreline reconstruction is completed, the new pedestrian bridge changes the landscape of the region, water access returns, and a new sledding hill opens up. But, as we have learned from our peer parks – a park is never complete! There will always be new additions and enhancements. I already can’t wait to see what comes next!!

Evan Allen, AmeriCorps Member

Originally from the Rochester area, Evan grew up enjoying the outdoors all around Western New York. He just got back from a year living in Kazakhstan, where he taught English at a local university. He is passionate about environmental justice and am very excited to get to work on Ralph Wilson Park! Evan joined the team in October 2023.

What is your background and education? I graduated from Fordham University in 2021 with a BA in International Studies and French and a minor in Environmental Studies. While I was studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal, I had the opportunity to work with a local organization that was educating rural communities on their legal rights with regard to mining. This inspired me to write my senior thesis on climate change mitigation at the community level, and sparked a desire for a career in the environmental field.

Why are you interested in working for RWPC? The environmental work the RWPC does coupled with its robust community engagement efforts is what drew me to the organization. I am interested in learning more about how the community interacts with the urban environment, and to work together with the community to develop solutions on how the park can best fit the needs of local residents.

What do you feel is the most exciting part of updates to Ralph Wilson Park? I am really excited about the ecological changes being made to the shoreline along the park which will create new habitats for native species, while also providing opportunities for nature education for people all around Buffalo and beyond.