SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Great River Passage Conservancy today announced that its founding executive director Mary deLaittre will be stepping down from her role on April 4. The Conservancy’s communications and development manager Laura Bray will act as interim director following deLaittre’s departure.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity to be the founding executive director of this incredible organization,” said deLaittre. “My interest and expertise have always been helping large civic endeavors through their start-up phase, which the Great River Passage Conservancy and the transformative projects it supports are now formally transitioning out of. Together, we have laid a solid foundation for success as we look to reconnect with the river, and I’m excited and optimistic about what’s next for the Conservancy.”

Mary joined the City of Saint Paul in 2016 to help lead the Great River Passage Initiative, which aimed to reconnect Saint Paul to its 17 miles of Mississippi River. Born of that initiative were three capital projects – the River Balcony, the River Learning Center and the East Side River District. Mary helped the City form the Great River Passage Conservancy to lead advocacy and private fundraising for these projects, leaving the City to take on the role as founding executive director of the Conservancy in 2019.

“I am so grateful for Mary and the work she has done to deepen our connection to the Mississippi and move us closer to fully realizing the opportunities it presents our city,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “I look forward to continuing this work with a new leader at the Conservancy, and to see these transformational projects come to life.” 

In her time at the Conservancy, Mary has worked with local governments, tribes, nonprofit partners, businesses, donors, and the community to fund and create schematic designs for both the River Balcony and the River Learning Center; advocated on behalf of the initiative’s three projects; and successfully fundraised for the organization. She also created a community of river advocates by nurturing partnerships with organizations, leaders and community members, with the goal of building the river capital in Saint Paul.

“The Conservancy would not be where it is today without Mary’s leadership. In less than four years she has galvanized the community around an exciting vision for the riverfront in the capital city,” said Peter Myers, board chair for the Conservancy. “The new executive director is going to have a wonderful opportunity to build on this foundation created by Mary and the City of Saint Paul, and transform underutilized areas of our riverfront into vibrant, engaging amenities that offer new ways for citizens to connect with this valuable natural resource.”

As part of the succession planning process that began last fall, the Great River Passage Conservancy Board has hired executive search firm CohenTaylor to lead the search for her replacement. Interested candidates can view the job description here and reach out to [email protected] with questions.


About the Great River Passage Conservancy

Working in partnership with the City of Saint Paul’s Great River Passage Initiative, the Great River Passage Conservancy leads advocacy and private fundraising efforts for three key capital projects along Saint Paul’s 17 miles of Mississippi River. These projects will re-orient people to our great river by building environmental stewardship, community health, and economic development as we create opportunities to experience the river in new and equitable ways. Learn more at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *