President of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Keith Laughlin is the president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), the nation's largest trails organization with more than 100,000 members and supporters. With an extensive network of partners in the recreation, health promotion, transportation and conservation communities, RTC works to create a national environment that promotes, protects and facilitates the conversion of former railroad rights-of-way into public access trails throughout the country. Today, with more than 15,000 miles of open rail-trails, RTC is helping hundreds of U.S. communities connect distinct trails into regional trail networks supported by all levels of government and informed and involved grassroots communities.
Laughlin joined RTC in February 2001 and has guided the organization's effort to become a national leader in the trails and greenways movement. In addition to leading an organization with four field offices and a staff of about 50, Laughlin regularly testifies before Congress on important trail-related issues, develops RTC partnerships, campaigns and programmatic direction and spearheads RTC's effort to ensure a meaningful use and growth of the Transportation Enhancements program—the primary source of funding for trails, walking and biking.
Laughlin's career has been based in Washington, D.C. and focused on a variety of issues, most notably environmental conservation and livable communities. Prior to joining RTC Laughlin was the associate director for sustainable development on the White House's Council on Environmental Quality. Appointed in 1993, he directed the interagency team that developed the Clinton administration's wetlands reform policy, one of the earliest efforts to demonstrate that economic and environmental goals need not be in conflict and, in fact, were often in harmony.
From 1996 to 2000, Laughlin focused exclusively on issues related to the burgeoning "smart growth" development and planning movement as well as community livability as a whole. He became chair of the White House Task Force on Livable Communities in 1999, and was the primary author of the administration's Building Livable Communities report released in 2000.
Laughlin's move into the nonprofit trails sector reflects his strongly held belief that a nationwide network or interconnecting trails can provide countless valuable community benefits, including low- or no-cost recreation and alternative commuting options for people of all ages and abilities throughout the country.
A resident of Washington, D.C., Laughlin is married and has two children.