Cherie Butler Named as First Superintendent
“Cherie has direct experience translating complex and sometimes controversial history into compelling public programming and interpretive media – an essential task in the development of the any new national park site,” said Reidenbach. “All these skills will be essential, not just for the success of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, but also to support the new leadership model for the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program and develop strategies to further elevate one of our signature partnership programs."
Established by Presidential Proclamation on March 25, 2013, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument commemorates the life of the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, a fearless woman who enabled many enslaved people to emancipate themselves and escape to freedom in the North. The new national monument is located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and includes large sections of landscapes that are significant to Tubman’s early life in Dorchester County and evocative of her life as an enslaved person and conductor of the Underground Railroad.
Established by Congress in 1998, The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program of the National Park Service works in collaboration with local, state, and federal entities to promote programs and partnerships to commemorate, preserve sites and other resources associated with, and to educate the public about the historical significance of the Underground Railroad.
"I look forward to exploring new and innovative ways to share the powerful life stories of the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman, a remarkable woman whose legacy continues to impact the nation and the world to this day," said Butler. "I am committed to strengthening current relationships, while also opening doors to new ones. Ms. Tubman's history may be rooted in the waterways, roads and trails of Maryland, but her messages about freedom, honor and courage, resonate around the world. The success of the new park and the national program will only be achieved through continued collaboration and cooperation with neighboring, national and international communities."
Before her acting superintendent assignment at the new monument, Butler was the Northeast Regional Office Management Assistant. This position is a two year appointment specifically designed to develop future superintendents. In that role, she was the key point of contact for technical and program management actions by the Northeast Regional Director and Deputy Regional Directors. She also supported regional communications and legislative affairs. During her time as management assistant, she also served as the acting deputy superintendent at Boston National Historical Park and Boston African American National Historic Site. Butler came to the regional office from the position of Chief of Interpretation and Education at the seven Manhattan Sites in New York City. Prior to this, she served as the Chief of Interpretation, Education and Cultural Resources at the African Burial Ground National Monument from 2009 to 2011 – another new national monument. She has also held a number of supervisory and interpretive positions at Independence NHP and the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island
Key sites in Harriet Tubman National Monument include Stewart’s Canal, dug by hand free and enslaved people, including Tubman, between 1810 and the 1830s. Stewart’s Canal is part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and, although part of the new national monument, it will continue to be managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The monument also includes the home site of Jacob Jackson, a free black man who used coded letters to help Tubman communicate with family and others. The Jacob Jackson Home Site was donated to the National Park Service by The Conservation Fund for inclusion in the new national monument. The State of Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Visitor Center will be another key site in the national monument when it opens in 2015.
Butler, a native of Arkansas, holds a Bachelor of Communications degree from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff with post graduate studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Ms. Butler will begin her assignment immediately.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
Did You Know?
The Underground Railroad was an extensive, secret, resistance movement of people and places that helped enslaved people emancipate themselves and escape to lives of freedom.