National Park Service Press Release

For Immediate Release:
October 30, 2002
David Barna, 202 208-6843
Gerry Gaumer, 202 208-6843

National Park Service Director Fran P. Mainella Receives Walter T. Cox Award for Public Service

(Washington, D.C.) --- Fran P. Mainella, the 16th Director of the National Park Service and the first woman to lead the agency, was recently recognized for her leadership and public service achievements. Mainella was presented the 2002 Walter T. Cox Award recognizing her sustained achievement in public service providing leadership in administration of public lands and for policy formation affecting our natural and cultural resources.

“Working with America’s national parks and special places is a labor of love,” Mainella said. “I deeply appreciate this award, and I share it with the wonderful staff and talented employees of the National Park Service.”

Clemson University presented the award to Director Mainella at the recent Clemson University Environmental Seminar and George B. Hartzog, Jr. Lecture. The award is named in honor of Dr. Walter T. Cox’s distinguished career in education and public service, especially during his tenure as President of Clemson University and as the Director of the Santee–Cooper Authority.

Since becoming Director of the National Park Service in 2001, Director Mainella has committed to strengthening programs for preserving natural and cultural resources in the parks and reducing the maintenance backlog that affects all of the properties in the National Park System. She is especially focused on the opportunities available through strengthened volunteerism, partnership, and outreach programs.

Appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate, Mainella is a career professional in park and recreation management, with more than 30 years’ experience. Most recently, she served 12 years as Director of Florida’s Division of Recreation and Parks. Florida State Parks were voted the best in the nation, achieving the 1999-2001 Gold Medal Award given jointly by the National Sporting Goods Association and the National Recreation and Park Association.

During her tenure, the Florida Park Service became a national model for its volunteer and partnership programs which formalized and strengthened the effective use of interested, talented, and committed individuals and companies to enhance a broad spectrum of programs and services for public benefit. She oversaw management of 155 state park units from the Florida Keys to Pensacola Bay. She also served as Florida’s Outdoor Recreation State Liaison Officer, administering Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to support acquisition and development of outdoor recreation sites.

Before assuming her State post, she was Executive Director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, a statewide professional organization for those working in public and private park and recreation programs and facilities. In recent years, she has served terms as President of both the National Recreation and Park Association (1996-97) and the National Association of State Park Directors (1997-99).

Among her many awards and recognitions, she has received several for her support of equal employment opportunities and ethnic diversity. She was also the 2001 recipient of The Senator Bob Williams Award in Florida, in recognition of her work for historic preservation.

The Connecticut native obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Connecticut and her Master’s from Central Connecticut State College.



The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.