Managing directors

The managing directors act as the legal representatives of the Association (Board of Directors) and are accountable for the conduct of their responsibilities. They authorise coordinators to undertake tasks on their behalf. Managing directors of Interpret Europe are:

Managing Director:
Thorsten Ludwig (Germany)

In 2000, I followed an invitation from Patrick Lehnes to join the assembly founding Interpret Europe as the European Network for Heritage Interpretation. Some years after its formal establishment as an association, I became an elected member of IE's Supervisory Committee. In 2015, I was appointed Managing Director. My core fields of responsibility are membership development, communication, networking, research and training.

My management experience first grew in the early 1990s when I was responsible for setting up the education department for a German national park. We focused on day programmes for school classes, with up to 50 seasonal workers and almost 10,000 participants per year. 25 years later, this system is still in use.

For 12 years, I was on the Board of Directors of the German Association for Natural and Environmental Education (ANU) and one of three members of the Leuchtpol Supervisory Board. Leuchtpol was the largest German sponsoring initiative for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with a budget of €28 million over four years.

As concerns managing cultural heritage, I chaired the Board of Directors of a foundation for three years that was in charge of a medieval castle, including a hostel with 180 beds, a learning centre and a state archive. One of my achievements was to make the foundation more sustainable by establishing a system of experts and youth groups to maintain the historic buildings, resulting in up to 8,000 volunteer working hours per year.

As member of a nationwide steering committee, I supported the development of the German training programme Certified Nature and Landscape Guide for more than ten years. I introduced and managed a three-year training project called ParcInterp with scientific support and in conjunction with three national key stakeholder associations who as a result agreed on common interpretive training standards in German protected areas.

Within the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union, I was involved in the projects TOPAS (Training of Protected Area Staff) as trainer, RWL (Real World Learning Network) as country coordinator and HeriQ (Quality in Heritage Interpretation) as transfer partner.

Since 1993, I have been running my own company, Bildungswerk interpretation, as a consultancy for interpretive training and planning. I studied archaeology, hold an MSc in Interpretation Management and Practice from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI, UK) and have been acknowledged by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI, USA) as Certified Interpretive Planner (CIP) and as Certified Interpretive Trainer (CIT). Once a year I teach interpretation as a six-day residential module at the University for Sustainable Development (HNE, Germany).

I believe that heritage interpretation plays an essential role in meeting some of the key challenges we are currently facing in Europe. As Managing Director of Interpret Europe, I see my task to express this at a political level, by developing Interpret Europe together with our dedicated members as a platform for exchange between European heritage stakeholders and by increasing the outreach and the quality of heritage interpretation in Europe.

Managing Director:
Markus Blank (Austria)

I feel lucky that I can look back on two lives.

In my first life I studied electrical engineering and worked for 13 years as the head of the IT department in different companies. But soon I recognized that the job did not fulfill me at all. I decided to quit my job and to hire a professional career coach. Soon I learned that I wanted to do something “with and for nature, with and for people,” but I did not know which job would combine these qualities. On a vacation in the U.S.A. I recognized the U.S. National Park Rangers (which I saw a couple of times before on other vacations), and I instantly knew: That’s it!

I applied for volunteer positions in several U.S. National Parks and had the great opportunity to volunteer in the division of interpretation at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area located near Los Angeles.

That’s where my second life as an interpreter began. I was introduced to interpretation for the first time and I was excited to learn more about the profession as I worked as an interpretive U.S. National Park Ranger for almost one year.

Back in Europe I participated in a ranger training in the Austrian Gesäuse National Park. After one year of working there as a Park Ranger I got the wonderful opportunity to fulfill my dreams in the department of environmental education in the Gesäuse National Park. Now I’m in charge of several exhibits, all of the themed trails, the National Park app and of interpretation. Besides that I still love to conducting programs and being outdoors in the park.

It is my heartfelt desire to establish solid interpretive programs across Europe so that visitors to our historic and scenic places will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for them. Only through effective interpretation we will be able to preserve and protect these places for future generations.

Our mission

To serve all who use
first-hand experiences
to give natural and
cultural heritage a
deeper meaning