Retired Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park
During her 32-year career with the National Park Service, Suzanne Lewis shattered the glass ceiling several times as the first female superintendent of five national parks across the country, including Yellowstone National Park and the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida, which she played a prominent role in developing. Now retired, she continues to pursue her passion and dedication to public lands preservation programs through her work with the Sonoran Institute in Tucson, Arizona.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in the National Park Service?
When I was in college, I learned that the National Park Service had positions available to history graduates. National Park Service employees are charged with preserving the most valuable historical assets in the country, and I knew that was something I was interested in and prepared to do, thanks to my education.
What was the highlight of your career?
Becoming the first female superintendent at Yellowstone was an obvious highlight. It’s the most recognized park in the world, and being able to oversee it was an honor. The second highlight would be developing the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve in Jacksonville. I spent six years acquiring land, totaling 46,000 acres, and was able to partner with the state to have them donate the Kingsley Plantation. It’s one of the best sets of resources associated with slavery in our nation, and having it as part of the preserve was a huge accomplishment.
What role has UWF played in your success?
I’ve spoken in public countless times and attributed my successful career to UWF. The personal atmosphere and small class sizes provided me not only with a quality education, but close relationships with professors and a great sense of self confidence that served me well throughout my years in the National Park Service and even today.