2007 Honorees

Suzanne LewisSuzanne Lewis

First Woman Superintendent in the History of Yellowstone National Park

Suzanne Lewis, becoming the first female Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park on February 10, 2002, testified to a 21st century change in the culture of the National Park Service.  There had been a time when women in the National Park Service (NPS) including pioneer rangers, superintendents, and maintenance workers had to fight to win the right to wear the traditional Stetson hat and the gray and green uniform that conferred full authority on their positions in the eyes of the public.  Today, the culture of the organization is visibly changed. NPS visitors now hear presentations that incorporate women’s roles in their exhibits and talks.  One-third of the fifteen thousand Park Service employees are women and twenty percent of the women represent minorities.  Clearly, Lewis is a important representative of a generation of women who are moving history forward.

In 1978, Lewis began her NPS career as a seasonal park ranger at Gulf Islands National Seashore.  During her 11-year tenure at Gulf Islands National Seashore, she served in a variety of positions including park technician, park historian, supervisory park ranger and management assistant to the superintendent.  Chosen in 1988 for an international assignment to the Republic of Haiti, she assisted the United Nation’s efforts to preserve, protect and educate Haitians in the preservation of natural and cultural resources.  In 1989, Lewis was appointed acting superintendent for Christiansted National Historic Site and Buck Islands Reef National Monument in the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Lewis was selected in 1990 as the first superintendent for the newly created Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve – a national park site in Jacksonville, Florida.  Lewis served as the superintendent for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1997 to April 2000, where she managed one of the busiest national recreation areas in the United States.

Before coming to Yellowstone, Suzanne was superintendent at Glacier National Park where she managed more than 1.1 million acres and an annual operating budget in excess of $11 million.

As Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, she manages more than 2.2 million acres, a staff of 800, and a budget of more than $32 million. . 

Ms. Lewis earned her B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in American History, in 1978 from the University of West Florida.  During her Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program, Lewis completed assignments with the Department of Interior Secretary’s Special Assistant for Alaska, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Walt Disney World Corporation.

Throughout her NPS career, Lewis has received numerous awards including the Secretary’s Bronze Executive Leadership Award in March 2004, the National Park Service Meritorious Service Award in September 2003, and the National Parks and Conservation Association Park Manager of the Year for Partnerships in 1994.  She was also awarded the Woman of Distinction Award by the Girl Scout Councils of America in 1997.

Lewis enjoys traveling and completed a tour of southern Africa in 1996, visiting six national parks in Botswana and Zimbabwe, including whitewater rafting the Zambezi River.  Other interests include producing pottery, and the outdoors.  She has been married to Michael Hurrell since 1983.