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Robert Stanton

Former Director of the National Park Service

Robert Stanton

Robert G. Stanton, former Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and former Director of the National Park Service, was appointed by President Barack Obama on October 30, 2014 to a four-year term on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). An independent federal agency, the ACHP promotes the educational, economic, and cultural value of historic preservation and advises the president and Congress on national historic preservation policy. It also influences federal activities, programs, and policies that affect historic and cultural properties.

As Senior Advisor to the Interior Secretary from 2010-2014, Mr. Stanton served as a key senior analyst and provided executive level advice and support to the Secretary on a wide range of environmental, educational, organizational and management challenges, and opportunities and worked closely with the bureaus and offices in advancing the Secretary and the President’s goals for Interior. He also represented the Secretary and the Department on Presidential Policy Review Committees, Boards and Commissions From 2009-2010 before assuming the Senior Advisor position in the immediate office of the Secretary, Mr. Stanton served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Program Management.

Mr. Stanton, prior to returning to Federal service in 2009, served as an Executive Professor at Texas A&M University in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences; Visiting Professor at Howard University in the Department of History (Public History Program); Visiting Fellow at Yale University in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; board member and consultant to a number of national conservation organizations.  From 2001-2003, he also served as the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) Ambassador for the Fifth World Parks Congress held in 2003 in Durban, South Africa.

An experienced public administrator, Mr. Stanton was unanimously confirmed in1997as the 15th Director of the National Park Service and served as the Director until the end of the Clinton Administration.  He was the first Director to undergo confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate and the first African American to serve in this position since the National Park Service was established by Congressional legislation in 1916. Beginning with his appointment by Interior Secretary Stewart Lee Udall in 1962 as a National Park Service Ranger at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, he has dedicated his life work to improving the preservation and management of the Nation’s rich and diverse natural and cultural resources. He worked consistently to increase staff diversity and supported programs that recognized the struggles, courage, leadership, and contributions of women and minorities in the development and collective history of the United States. He has held key management and executive positions including Park Superintendent (National Capital Parks-East, Washington, DC/Maryland and Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands); Deputy Regional Director (Southeast Regional Office, Atlanta, Georgia and National Capital Regional Office, Washington, DC); Regional Director, National Capital Regional Office, Washington, DC and in the National Office, Assistant Director for Park Operations, Associate Director for Park Management and Director.

As Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stanton had policy, planning and management responsibility for the National Park System’s 384 natural, cultural and recreational areas and partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations .The 83-million acre National Park System attracted 228 million visits each year.  He managed a workforce of 20,000 permanent, temporary and seasonal employees and an annual budget of $2.3 billion.  He was responsible for the National Park Service areas, programs and offices located in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

His bipartisan and inclusive approach to problem solving and cooperative resource stewardship earned him respect and admiration, enabling him to build effective relations with the U. S. Congress, Federal, Tribal, state and local agencies, diverse organizations, leaders and citizens.  Under his leadership the National Park Service budget increased by 28 percent and major park preservation and visitor service programs were inaugurated, including the Natural Resource Challenge, the Cultural Resource Challenge, Connecting People to Parks (education and interpretation), Public Lands Corps, Action Plan for Diversity in Workforce and Public Programs, Co-sponsorship of the Save America’s Treasures Program, Visitor Transportation Systems, Cultural Resources Diversity Intern Program, and the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Program. Major presidential and legislative initiatives were enacted throughout his tenure, including the authorization of eleven new park areas, six national heritage areas, the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and Special Resource Studies for 22 possible new areas to the National Park System.

Cited in a wide range of news media, professional and technical publications and a frequent public speaker, Mr. Stanton has participated in major national and international conferences, including the Fifth World Parks Congress, Durban, South Africa, 2003; World Protected Areas Leadership Forum in Australia, 2002, in Spain, 2001, and in Virginia, 2000; First World Conference on Cultural Parks, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, 1984, and the Second World Congress on National Parks, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 1972.

He is active in professional and civic affairs. Current and past board directorships include the Newseum, National Parks Conservation Association, Accokeek Foundation, Environmental Law Institute, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Eastern National Cooperating Association, the Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural and Minority Medicine, African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation (co-founder), Advisory Council of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Woods Hole Research Center, American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, Guest Services, Inc., and the Student Conservation Association.

Mr. Stanton has been nationally recognized through awards and citations for outstanding public service and leadership in conservation, historic preservation, youth programs, public and government relations and diversity in employment and public programs.  Recognition includes the U.S. Presidential Rank Award for Distinguished Federal Executive Service; Department of the Interior’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award; the National Council of Negro Women’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award; the Cornelius Pugsley Gold Medal of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration; the IUCN’s Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award; the Student Conservation Association Founder’s Award; the Lincoln Medal, Ford’s Theatre Society ; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, National Ethnic Coalition Organizations ; the International Salute Committee’s Award for Public Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and for work in “Keeping the Dream Alive;” the Colonel Charles Young Diversity Recognition Award, the National Park Foundation; and the Living Legacy Award, the Association for the Study of African American  Life and History. Two awards have been established in his name: The Robert G. Stanton Award for Exemplary Support, National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom of the National Park Service (presented annually) and the Robert G. Stanton Award for Leadership in Diversity (presented bi-annually), Clemson University and one jointly named award, the Stanton-Horton Award for Excellence in National Park Service History Programs, Organization of American Historians (presented annually)

Mr. Stanton earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas, and did his graduate work at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.  He has been awarded five honorary doctorate degrees: Doctor of Letters, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; Doctor of Science, Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, Texas; Doctor of Environmental Stewardship, Unity College, Unity, Maine; Doctor of Public Policy, Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Doctor of Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

A native of Ft. Worth, Texas, Mr. Stanton, in the era of “separate but equal,” grew up in Mosier Valley, one of the oldest communities in Texas founded by African Americans shortly after the U.S. Civil War.

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