Archived Outdoors

Parkway gets new superintendent

Tracy Swartout. NPS photo Tracy Swartout. NPS photo

Tracy Swartout will take over as superintendent for the Blue Ridge Parkway on May 23 following the departure of former Superintendent J.D. Lee last summer. Alexa Viets, the Parkway’s chief of resource management and interpretation, has served as acting superintendent since then.

“We are excited to select Tracy to lead one of the country’s most visited parks in the National Park System,” said National Park Service South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Stan Austin. “Tracy is an exceptional leader with a solid record of performance, managing multi-faceted park operations and collaborating to achieve important agency and community objectives. Her experience, commitment to operational excellence and passion for inclusive public participation make her well-suited for this role.”  

Swartout comes to the job with 21 years of NPS experience under her belt. Since 2012, she has served as deputy superintendent of Mount Ranier National Park in Washington, where she was responsible for operations and leadership at the 250,000-acre national park, which includes designated wilderness, six affiliated Native American tribes and a complex National Historic Landmark District. She served as acting superintendent at various times during that tenure.

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Swartout holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of South Carolina as well as a masters degree in environmental studies from the University of Waterloo in Canada. She has completed postgraduate work in environmental management and coastal geology at Duke University and completed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s executive leadership program.

Prior to her move out west, she served as superintendent of Congaree National Park in South Carolina and was named the southeast region’s Superintendent of the Year in 2012. Her early NPS career also includes seven years on the NPS Business Management Group in Washington, D.C., during which she recruited, hired and mentored teams to develop business plans for more than 75 parks, including the Parkway. Before joining the Park Service, she worked for the National Parks Conservation association.

“Throughout my life, the Blue Ridge Parkway has played a prominent role, with some of my most treasured memories being shaped along that winding road and in the national parks and communities beyond,” she said. “The area’s landscape, arts, music and culture are deeply meaningful for me.”

Swartout said she looks forward to building relationships with the Parkway’s many community and nonprofit partners as she takes on the superintendent’s role. Outside of work, Swartout enjoys spending time outdoors with family and friends, quilting, pottery and live music. She and her husband will move to the Asheville area this June, along with their children and two dogs.

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