Joshua R. Laird Named NPNH Commissioner

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Date: June 7, 2013
Contact: Dee Donohue, 212-668-2208

Joshua R. Laird Confirmed as Commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor Philadelphia – Johsua R. Laird has been selected as the next commissioner of the National Parks of New York Harbor, according to Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach. Laird replaces Maria Burks who retired in 2012.

Laird will serve as the commissioner of 10 national parks with 22 destinations located in New York City and northern New Jersey; including the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Federal Hall, Governors Island, Castle Clinton, Grant's Tomb, Hamilton Grange, Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace, St. Paul's Church and Gateway National Recreation Area. Together, these sites cover nearly than 27,000 acres and serve more than 12 million visitors a year. Laird comes to the National Park Service (NPS) from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), where he served as the assistant commissioner for planning and parklands since 2006.

"Josh joins the Service with a rich portfolio and a proven ability to focus on building successful and constructive partnerships within government and the communities we serve," said Reidenbach. "I believe that under his leadership we will form strategic partnerships, focus on environmental resiliency and strengthen connections to surrounding communities, so that the National Parks of New York Harbor can become an inspiring model for all that a great urban national park can be."

Laird was notably a key DPR representative for the growing partnership between the NPS and the City of New York. He led planning efforts that culminated with the signing of a General Agreement and Cooperative Management Agreement with the NPS. This unprecedented 2012 agreement between the NPS and the City of New York DPR outlined new ways the two agencies will cooperatively manage 10,000 acres of federal and city-owned parks in and around Jamaica Bay to promote visitation, education programs, scientific research and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

"I am grateful to NPS Director Jon Jarvis and Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach for entrusting me with the care of these remarkable sites," said Laird. "I am thrilled at this opportunity to lead the talented and dedicated NPS team of the National Parks of New York Harbor."

During Laird's tenure with DPR, he built and led a planning team engaged in many the City's most prominent and far-reaching initiatives; including, the development of Hudson River Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line, redevelopment of Yankee Stadium, the restoration of the Bronx River and the ongoing transformation of Fresh Kills Landfill into a park. As the agency's chief planner, he has extensive experience in strategic planning and worked closely involved with government partners on the development of sustainability initiatives, including PlaNYC and Vision 2020: The NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.

Laird's other positions with DPR included serving as chief of planning, deputy chief of management services, and deputy director of revenue. Laird has a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Laird is a lifelong New Yorker. His wife, Gail Wittwer-Laird, is a landscape architect with the NYC Parks Department. They have two sons, Ethan (9) and Maxwell (11).  While city-dwellers, Joshua and his family enjoy exploring New York City's wild places and spending time in the Hudson Valley, where they keep a large vegetable garden.

Editor's Note: Commissioner Laird will be available for interviews starting June 17, 2013. To schedule an interview please contact Dorcas Meyers with the National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner's Office at 212-668-3432.

About the National Parks of New York Harbor: You may be surprised to learn that there are 10 National Parks with 22 unique destinations in New York City and northern New Jersey. The National Parks of New York Harbor includes nearly 27,000 acres and welcomes more than 12 million visitors each year. The parks offer year-round programs, recreational opportunities, natural habitats, historic buildings and museum collections. Learn more at

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

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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