The National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum
Molly Morrison — 2014

8th Rebecca Lukens Award Recipient

A Chester County native, Molly Morrison learned to appreciate the importance of land preservation by spending time on her grandparents’ farm in northern Chester County, where her German immigrant ancestors had been farming since the early 1700s. 

After pursuing an English degree at Ursinus College and Masters in Communications at Syracuse University, Morrison worked at the Brandywine Valley Association and then for Chester County, where she served in a variety of positions over a 21-year period, most recently as Director of Policy and Planning.  In that role, she oversaw the development and implementation of the county’s nationally recognized open space program, as well as the policy development of policy and program implementation for planning, parks, water resources, and community development.  

As President of Natural Lands Trust, she has been instrumental in creating conservation strategies for complex land transactions, including the acquisition of the 1,263-acre ChesLen Preserve in Newlin Township.  In addition to providing strategic leadership and fundraising for a staff of 60, Ms. Morrison oversees a network of 42 nature preserves and 361 conservation easements, totaling more than 44,000 acres.

Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust (and its predecessor non-profit, the Philadelphia Conservationists) has saved more than 100,000 acres of natural areas and agricultural lands, making it one of the largest regional non-profit land trusts in the United States. While much of its land protection focus has been in Chester County, Natural Lands Trust pursues strategic land preservation and stewardship activities throughout all of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. 

Ms. Morrison has also served on a variety of boards, including the YMCA of Greater West Chester, the Chester County Art Association, and the Chester County United Way, among others. Ms. Morrison is married and has two grown daughters. She resides in Thornbury Township, Chester County.

“As a Chester County native, I have always been inspired by those individuals in our county’s history who have emerged as leaders to take on all manner of challenging roles–in women’s and civil rights, in business, in education, in government, and in conservation,” said Morrison. “Rebecca Lukens is the epitome of that spirit of transformation and commitment. Receiving an award in her name is an incredible honor for me.”

James D. Ziegler, the National Iron & Steel Heritage Museum’s executive director applauds this years’ choice for the eighth annual Rebecca Lukens Award. “Molly is a visionary, a doer, and a strategic leader. Her actions mirror those of Rebecca in her dedication to the land, community, and family. Like others before her, she has contributed to a better Chester County–one that has benefited from her dedication and vision.”