Founder Brandon Hayes earned a reputation for creative, hands-on, grounded communications and strategy solutions during his 20 years in the non-profit sector. For seven years, he was Director of Communications at Openlands, Chicago’s regional land trust and leading conservation organization, where he directed all aspects of external communications, including messaging, printed pieces, website, traditional and digital media, creative design, and photo and video content. He led the development and launch of the Openlands Get Outside Map in 2019. He was staff lead on the creation of Openlands’ five-year strategic plan in 2017, and he wrote the final version of the organization’s 2012 strategic plan. He oversaw the redesign and relaunch of Openlands.org in 2012 and 2016. He also served on Openlands’ Program Impact and Climate Change task forces.

Brandon was Manager of Communications and Development at Marwen, which provides high-quality visual arts training to underserved Chicago youth. He was a publicist at Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s leading regional theater. He has also directed operas and plays in Chicago and metropolitan Detroit.

Brandon regularly presents talks and workshops at national and regional venues like Land Trust Alliance Rally: The National Land Conservation ConferencePrairie State Conservation Coalition, and River Rally. He was co-chair of the Communications Working Group of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative. He served on the Vital Lands Illinois Working Group. He was an invited participant and impromptu facilitator of the inaugural “Inspiring Conservation Leadership” gathering at Oak Spring Garden Foundation.

Brandon is an essayist and photographer who has written extensively about the National Parks on AsTheyAre.org, where he chronicles his and his husband’s journey to visit all the US National Parks. His photographs of the National Parks are available on OutInTheParks.com, with a portion of proceeds benefiting each park’s associated friends group.

Brandon is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Conservation Leadership and is Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Chicago Artists for Action, comprised of Common Pulse and Justice Choir of Chicago.

Brandon has a BA in Humanities with concentrations in Art History, English, and History from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He has a certificate in Training, Facilitation, and Consulting from the Center for New Leadership at Marlboro College.

(Photo: Chris Murphy)