Utah State Treasurer David Damschen has announced the appointment of Tim Donaldson as the new director of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office.
During the 2018 general session, the Legislature authorized the creation of the office to advocate for Utah trust lands beneficiaries, oversee the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) and School and Institutional Trust Funds Office (SITFO) administrations and help the public understand and support these endowments. The office is overseen by the state treasurer and the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee. The office's first director, Justin Atwater, resigned his position earlier this fall for another opportunity.
"Mr. Donaldson's comprehensive knowledge of the trusts is unmatched, as is his passion for their protection. I am confident that going forward under the current governance structure and with Mr. Donaldson as the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office director, the trusts will be better served than ever," Treasurer Damschen said. "Mr. Atwater laid important groundwork for the office. I am grateful for his outstanding service and contributions to the school and institutional trusts system."
Donaldson has more than 13 years of experience with the school and institutional trusts system, including serving as assistant director for land exchanges, special projects and strategic planning at SITLA and as director of the School Children's Trust. Among his accomplishments, he helped create and staffed the School Trust Investment Task Force in 2013, drafted and helped pass the legislation that created SITFO in 2014, collaborated with Treasurer Damschen and SITFO on the passage of Constitutional Amendment B in 2016, led SITLA's renewable energy program, staffed the newly created Renewables Committee and created SITLA's first training program.
"I have enjoyed the opportunity to help strengthen the school and institutional trusts system in various capacities over the past decade, and I am eager for my new role protecting beneficiary interests and trust assets and advocating for trust growth and preservation," Donaldson said.
The Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee screened, selected and interviewed candidates during the past three months. They recently presented Treasurer Damschen with their top two nominations.
"We are thrilled by Mr. Donaldson's appointment and eager to work with him to advocate for and protect the interests of current and future trust beneficiaries," Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Committee Chair Steve Ostler said.
About the School and Institutional Trusts System
When Utah became a state in 1896, Congress granted approximately seven million acres of land into 12 separate trusts for the support of state institutions, the largest being a trust for the perpetual support of public schools. The land has been administered by SITLA since 1994. In 2014, the Utah State Legislature created SITFO as an independent state agency to invest the funds produced by SITLA's administration of the land. During the 2018 general session, the Legislature authorized the creation of the Land Trusts Protection and Advocacy Office to advocate for Utah trust lands beneficiaries, oversee the SITLA and SITFO administrations and help the public understand and support these endowments.