African Burial Ground Welcomes New Superintendent

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Date: March 4, 2011
Contact: Darren Boch, 212-668-2251

New York, NY – The National Park Service has selected Shirley McKinney as the new superintendent for the African Burial Ground National Monument in lower Manhattan. McKinney follows Tara Morrison, the African Burial Ground's first superintendent, who is leaving to manage Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia.

"I have been truly honored to serve at the African Burial Ground since it was first added to the national park system in 2006," said Morrison. "And while I am excited about the new opportunity that awaits me, I am going to miss the park staff, many friends, community partners and colleagues in and out of the park service I've had the privilege of working with since the burial ground was named a national monument. They are the reason the site has become such a success in telling the story of a people whose legacy continues to impact this city and our nation."

Morrison provided leadership for the development of interpretive media for the first African Burial Ground Visitor Center and managed a $2 million budget and a $5.2 million project-funded visitor center. She is credited with strategically working with staff and the public during the development of the park's first general management plan to ensure public understanding of and public engagement in the process.

Shirley McKinney, a 30-year National Park Service veteran who joined the system in 1980 as a clerk-stenographer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, will become the African Burial Ground's new superintendent on March 6.

"All units of the national park system are special in their own right. But for me, as an African-American, to have the opportunity to manage the African Burial Ground will be a highlight of my career," said McKinney. "Tara built a great foundation and I'm looking forward to working with the staff and partners on completing the General Management Plan and building on the work that's already been completed."

McKinney's assignments in New York City have included serving as the administrative officer for the sprawling Gateway National Recreation Area, and later as the superintendent for that park's Staten Island unit. She also served as the executive assistant to the commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, a collaboration of the 10 national parks in the New York City metropolitan area.

While in New York, McKinney administered more than $10 million in federal contracts, managed a budget in excess of $30 million and oversaw the move and restoration of Hamilton Grange National Memorial, and the rehabilitation of the General Grant National Memorial Overlook Pavilion. She currently serves as the superintendent of six other historic sites in and around New York City.

A native of Gary, Indiana and graduate of Kentucky State University, McKinney received several promotions in the National Park Service before moving to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 1986 as the administrative officer, a post she held until she transferred to Gateway in 1988 as a program analyst.

"Tara Morrison served with distinction as she faced the many challenges that came her way as the superintendent of a new park," said Maria Burks, commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor. "But as much as we're sad to see Tara depart, we're equally happy to have someone with the breadth and depth of Shirley McKinney's experience to help write the next chapter in the history of the monument."

About African Burial Ground National Monument
One of the most significant archaeological finds in U.S. History, the African Burial Ground is a 17th- and 18th-century cemetery that was rediscovered in 1991 when construction began on a federal office building in lower Manhattan. In 1993, the site was preserved as a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior and was later designated as a National Monument by Presidential Proclamation on Feb. 27, 2006. The National Monument is part of an original 6.6-acre site containing the remains of approximately 15,000 people, making it the largest African cemetery excavated in North America.

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Last updated: February 26, 2015

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