Jim Lighthizer retired on Sept. 30, 2020, after nearly 21 years as president of the American Battlefield Trust, transitioning to a lifetime position on the board of trustees as president emeritus. Under his leadership, the trust grew to become the nation’s largest and most successful battlefield land preservation organization, saving more than 53,000 acres of hallowed ground at more than 140 American battlefields in 24 states spanning three conflicts — the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil War.
Since Lighthizer took the reins at the trust in December 1999, the organization has raised nearly $235 million in private contributions to match nearly an equal amount in federal, state, local and other grants. His belief in the ability of history and civics knowledge to strengthen our nation resulted in the trust becoming an education powerhouse, amassing nearly 100 million views of its digital education and video pages.
Lighthizer’s commitment to land conservation long predates his tenure at the trust. In 1979 he was elected to the Maryland State Legislature and, in 1982, to the first of two terms as Anne Arundel county executive. In this role he established a county farmland protection program, preserving over 2,500 acres, and embarked on an aggressive park creation effort that resulted in the purchase of over 900 acres and seven miles of waterfront. In 1991, Lighthizer was appointed as Maryland’s Secretary of Transportation and pioneered the use of federal ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) funds for land conservation, 4,500 acres of battlefield land in Maryland. And as chairman of the governor’s Greenways Committee, he created environmental and recreational open space throughout the Old Line State.
Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1946, Lighthizer is a graduate of the University of Dayton and Georgetown University Law Center. A father of five, he resides in Eldorado, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with his wife, Gloria. Their waterfront historic property, called Rehobeth, was the family home of Maryland’s second elected governor, Thomas Sim Lee.