RAPID 5 Appoints Luke Messinger CEO

Messinger to Lead the Organizations Efforts to Grow Access to Central Ohio’s Greenways, Parks and Waterways

COLUMBUS, OHIO – February 27, 2024 – RAPID 5 announced today the appointment of Luke Messinger as CEO of the nonprofit organization. Messinger joins RAPID 5 following a successful 24 years serving as Executive Director of The Dawes Arboretum.

RAPID 5 is a vision to redefine Central Ohio’s quality of life by transforming how we use our abundant waterways and vibrant green spaces. Acting as a catalyst and convener, RAPID 5’s mission is to unite our regions assets, knitting more than 80 communities together to create one of the largest interconnected park systems in the nation.

“I’ve spent the last two decades of my career focusing on the conservation of nature,” said Messinger. “RAPID 5’s mission to connect all residents in central Ohio to our parks, greenways and waterways is a bold idea whose time has come. I am thrilled to be part of this vision to better the lives of so many by helping to provide access to our incredible natural resources.”

“Luke is the perfect fit to advance the focused mission of RAPID 5,” said Keith Myers, RAPID 5 Board Chair. “As we establish a land trust in the quest to create one of the largest interconnected park systems in the country, Messinger brings his deep knowledge of nature, expertise in growing a respected community organization and a lifelong passion for enriching lives through the outdoors.”

Along with his role at The Dawes Arboretum, Messinger served on the Development Advisory Committee for the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and was on the Parks Board at the City of Gahanna for 8 years, working on the formation of the Creekside District at Big Walnut Creek. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a BS in Landscape Horticulture and Journalism.

BroadView Talent Partners led the search for the CEO position at RAPID 5. Messinger is expected to begin his role at RAPID 5 in May of 2024.

RAPID 5 received its 501c3 status in July 2022 and established its Board of Directors who are committed to helping to guide, grow and strengthen the organization. The focus over the past year included intensive work of strategic and operational planning with the Board and building and sustaining the organization and the system. This internal work led to the focus of forming a Land Trust to acquire acreage that will strategically maximize the community’s parks and waterways.

“Establishing a land trust is a foundational next step of our journey,” says Keith Myers, RAPID 5 founding member and Board Chair. “By doing so, RAPID 5 can help all parties put nature at the center of their planning.”

Land trusts exist in over 90% of U.S. counties and in every major urban area in Ohio except Columbus. By creating a land trust, RAPID 5 will be in a better position to help central Ohio communities secure, restore and protect land, whether urban, suburban, or rural.

The Board made this move to help all stakeholders on the journey:

  • RAPID 5 can now better help city leaders create public spaces and natural corridors that improve the appeal of their communities and extend beyond their jurisdictions.
  • By establishing a land trust, RAPID 5 can ensure that more land is protected and preserved.
  • Underserved communities can rely on RAPID 5 for equitable access to nature.
  • RAPID 5 can assist interested private landowners and farmers with conservation easements that benefit families and the public at the same time.

Since the beginning, RAPID 5’s strategic goal has been to be a convener that helps create connections between communities and stakeholders that are often very difficult to establish. When complete, every resident will be within 1 mile of a park, greenways or a waterway.

In October, RAPID 5 announced a $250,000 gift from Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS), a local manufacturer of stormwater and onsite septic wastewater solutions. Additional gifts of support as RAPID 5 establishes a land trust will be announced soon.

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