February 10, 2014
Patty Rooney, 402-661-1532
OMAHA, Neb. – Paul Labovitz, currently Superintendent at Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (NRRA) in St. Paul, Minn., has been selected as the new Superintendent at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, headquartered in Porter, Ind. He succeeds Costa Dillon, who retired from the National Park Service (NPS) in August 2013, and begins this new assignment on May 18, 2014.
In announcing Labovitz’s selection, NPS Midwest Regional Director Michael T. Reynolds said, “Paul is a communicator and a collaborator with strong skills in consensus building. His impressive leadership of large, dispersed, multifaceted organizations and his extensive partnership experience will allow him to craft a compelling new vision for the park.” Reynolds added, “Paul’s proven abilities in nontraditional, urban parks will prove invaluable in working to bring the park and the NPS to diverse communities, cities, the State, and to the Chicago area in Illinois.”
“I’m anxious to get started at Indiana Dunes,” Labovitz said of this new opportunity. “Building on over a century of conservation work along Indiana’s Lake Michigan coast and helping set the course for the next century is very exciting. The opportunity to connect with the many great projects in this part of the Midwest is very appealing. Imagine the physical and programmatic links with the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area and Indiana Dunes. Playing a role in the establishment and development of the proposed Pullman National Historic Site helps the NPS become a more engaged partner in the terrific work going on in this region.”
Labovitz began his NPS career in what is now the Northeast Regional Office in Philadelphia, Penn., in 1988. As the region’s outdoor recreation planner, he provided technical assistance through the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) to project cooperators in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Labovitz transferred to the Midwest Regional Office in 1989 and, as leader of the region’s RTCA program working from Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Brecksville, Ohio, he provided planning and technical assistance to projects in Ohio and throughout the 13-state region. He assisted in the creation of the $400 million CLEANOhio program in 2001, provided early planning and assistance in the creation of the Ohio & Erie Canal National Heritage CanalWay, and successfully expanded the RTCA program in the region with three new field office while doubling the Midwest RTCA budget in 5 years. Labovitz accepted his first Superintendent position and relocated to the Mississippi NRRA in early 2007. During his tenure, the park has become a leader in demonstrating innovative urban youth engagement through the Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventures Program by providing an introductory outdoor experience to over 50,000 students. Labovitz has overseen the continuation of several different environmental education programs -- i.e., Big River Journey, and Journey to the Falls -- programs that have served over 60,000 students over the past decade. Labovitz is most proud of the park’s partnership work with the Mississippi River Fund and Wilderness Inquiry.
Prior to his NPS career, Labovitz managed a 10,000 acre privately owned woodland in southwest Pennsylvania.
Born in Camden, N.J. and raised in Philadelphia, Labovitz graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Forest Service, and received his Masters of Business Administration in 1987 from Frostburg State University in western Maryland. Married to Sue Bicknell, a Watchung, N.J., native, the Labovitzs’ are proud parents of three grown children living in Arkansas, New York, and Ohio.
Labovitz has extensive international experience in central and Eastern Europe’s national parks and protected areas. Outcomes of this work include the current Sister-Park Project between Indiana Dunes and Kampinoski NP in Poland and additional sister-park projects at Rocky Mountain and Cuyahoga Valley National Parks as well as efforts to connect Western and Eastern Europe with an interconnected series of bicycle trails. Paul serves as an NPS liaison to the Minnesota Mississippi River Parkway Commission and to Mississippi River Trail, Inc., and is a member of the University of Minnesota’s Tourism Center Advisory Committee. Paul also serves within NPS as a member of the Tourism Council and as a strategist focused on the Urban Parks/Urban Matters effort.
Authorized in 1966, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore encompasses over 15,000 acres of dunes, beaches, bogs, marshes, swamps, prairie remnants, and historic sites along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Natural features include Mt. Baldy, the park’s premiere sand dune rising 126 feet above Lake Michigan; historic sites include the 1922 Bailey Homestead the Chellberg Farm, a 1900-era family farm. The Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education and the Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center provide day-use and residential programs.