Maria Burks, a manager for the National Park Service, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Anthropology. She has worked for the National Park Service since 1973. She joined the Service at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, where she served as a park ranger, giving tours and managing special events during the Bicentennial.
After a transfer to Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco in 1983, Ms. Burks served as the Bay District Ranger, managing such diverse resources as a regional visitor center and Alcatraz Island, home of the famous penitentiary.
In 1989 she was named Superintendent of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, a Civil War park, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Subsequently, Ms. Burks served for two years as Special Assistant to the Director in Washington, working on a number of internal reform and reorganization projects.
In 1995 she became Superintendent of Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, overseeing over 43,000 acres of ocean and bay beaches, historic lighthouses, salt marshes, kettle ponds and remnants of centuries of human habitation.
Each of Ms. Burks’ assignments has had varied responsibilities. These have included developing and presenting many types of public programming, directing protection programs for threatened endangered species, and designing multi-year communications and marketing strategies. She has traveled to Russia several times to work with Russian conservationists on joint efforts in Russian and U.S. National Parks.
In June of 2004 she became the Acting Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, and in July of 2005 was officially designated to this position as a Senior Executive Service member. In this role she coordinates the work of five national park superintendents who oversee 10 national parks across a broad range of funding and programmatic endeavors to maximize efficiencies and generate additional support. The 10 parks include Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, African Burial Ground National Monument, Castle Clinton National Monument, Federal Hall National Memorial, Gateway National Recreation Area, General Grant National Memorial (Grant's Tomb), Governors Island National Monument, Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site and Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, all on or near New York Harbor.