Anne “Dede” Neal Petri is the President/CEO of the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP). Founded in 1980, NAOP is the only national organization dedicated solely to advancing the life and legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted and the Olmsted Firms. NAOP is also the managing partner of Olmsted 200, the bicentennial in 2022 of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted.
Before coming to NAOP, she was the 42nd president of The Garden Club of America, a national nonprofit founded in 1913 with 18,000 club members around the country. In 1995, she co-founded the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a non-profit dedicated to higher education, serving as president from 2003 – 2016.
She also served as General Counsel and Congressional Liaison for the National Endowment for the Humanities and worked as a First Amendment and communications lawyer and Senior Vice President of the Recording Industry Association of America. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in American history and literature (where she was first introduced to Frederick Law Olmsted) and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School where she was the first woman President of the Harvard Journal on Legislation.
She has served on the boards of many cultural and civic organizations including Friends of the National Arboretum, U.S. Capitol Historical Society, Casey Trees, NAOP, and the Paine Art Center and Gardens. She was president of All Hallows Guild, Washington National Cathedral, and chairman of its Garden Committee, spearheading the restoration of the Olmsted Woods. She currently serves on the advisory board of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and on the boards of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.
She has authored or co-authored studies including Restoring the Olmsted Woods, Ecological Restoration Magazine, University of WI Arboretum (2003); Washington National Cathedral Gardens: A Guide for Families; Profiles, Handbook of American Women’s History (Sage Publications 2000); and Losing America’s Memory (ACTA, 2000). In 2017, Rowman & Littlefield published her book, What’s a Parent to Do? How to Help Your Child Select the Right College.