Robert G. Stanton

Robert G. Stanton, the immediate past Director of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, is a consultant to the Natural Resources Council of America and Ambassador to the International Steering Committee of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas in support of the Fifth World Congress of National Parks planned for 2003 in Durban, South Africa. He is also a Research Affiliate in the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where in 2002 he served as a McCluskey Visiting Fellow for Conservation. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Stanton grew up in Mosier Valley, one of the oldest communities in Texas founded by African Americans.

Mr. Stanton earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Huston-Tillotson College, Austin, Texas and completed graduate work at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts and numerous professional development programs in conservation, administrative management and executive leadership. He has been awarded three honorary doctorate degrees: Doctor of Science, Huston-Tillotson College, Austin, Texas; Doctor of Environmental Stewardship; Unity College, Unity, Maine; and Doctor of Public Policy, Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

A lifelong conservationist and an experienced public administrator, Mr. Stanton served for three and one-half years as the Director of the National Park Service. He was nominated as the Director by President Clinton on June 26, 1997, confirmed by the United States Senate on July 30 and sworn into office on August 4, 1997. He was the 15th person to serve as the Director of the National Park Service and the first African American to hold that position since the agency was established by Congressional legislation in August 1916.

As Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stanton had policy, management and administrative responsibility for the National Park System’s 384 natural, cultural and recreational areas. The 83-million acre National Park System attracted 228 million visits each year. He also had responsibility for 20 trails in the National Trail System and oversaw major national education and preservation programs including the Youth Conservation and Public Land Corps, National Register of Historic Places, the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, and the Service’s international affairs. He was responsible for providing assistance to American Indian Tribal Governments, State and local governments, colleges and universities, and communities with respect to conservation, recreation and cultural resource partnership programs.

He managed a workforce of 20,000 permanent, temporary and seasonal employees and an annual budget of $2.3 billion. He was responsible for the National Park Service areas, programs and offices located in 49 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mr. Stanton accepted the position as Director after having retired in January 1997 as the Regional Director of the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C., where for eight years he was responsible for 40 natural, cultural and recreational areas located in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. These areas attracted more than 38 million visits annually to such popular sites as the White House, Washington Monument, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, Antietam National Battlefield, Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, Piscataway Park and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.

Mr. Stanton began his Federal career as a seasonal National Park Ranger at Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, during the summers of 1962 and 1963. Following two years as the Director of Public Relations and Alumni Affairs at Huston-Tillotson College, Austin Texas, he took a full-time position with the National Park Service in 1966 as a personnel management and public information specialist in the Washington, D.C. headquarters office. In 1969, he moved to National Capital Parks-Central, as a management assistant, and in 1970, became superintendent of National Capital Parks-East, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. A year later he was appointed superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and in 1974, he became Deputy Regional Director f the Southeast Region in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1977, Mr. Stanton returned to Washington, D.C. headquarters as Assistant Director, Park Operations, and in 1978 was appointed Deputy Regional Director of the National Capital Region. In 1987, he returned to headquarters as Associate Director for Operations and in 1988 became Regional Director of the National Capital Region.

He has been cited in several professional and technical publications and has served as a keynote speaker at university convocations and major national and international conferences. He has represented the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior on the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Board of Trustees, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts Board of Directors, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, and the National Park Foundation.

Mr. Stanton has visited the following countries on official business: Australia, Switzerland, Spain, Jordan, Canada, South Africa, Ghana, China, Saudi Arabia, Dominica and Trinidad-Tobago. He has participated in major international conferences, including the World Protected Areas Leadership Forum in Australia, 2002, in Spain, 2001 and in Virginia, 2000; World Commission on Protected Areas and World Conservation Congress, Amman, Jordan, 2000; First World Conference on Cultural Parks, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, 1984; and the Second World Congress on National Parks, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 1972.

He is active in professional and civic affairs and currently serves on boards of the Student Conservation Association, Inc., the National Audubon Society, Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park, Unity College, Woods Hole Research Center, Eastern National and Guest Services, Inc. He is a Fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, Associate of the Roundtable Associates, Inc., and Chairman of the Trustees of the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation.

He has been nationally recognized through meritorious awards and citations from professional, governmental and civil organizations for outstanding public service, conservation leadership, youth development, and diversity in employment and public programs. Professional recognitions include:


  • Carter G. Woodson History Maker Award, Association for Study of African American Life and History, 2002.
  • The 2001 Chair Award, Natural Resources Council of America, 2001.
  • Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award, IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, 2001.
  • Outstanding Achievement Conservation Award, Accokeek Foundation, 2001.
  • The Student Conservation Association (SCA) Elizabeth Titus Putnam Founder’s Award, The Student Conservation Association, Inc., 2000.
  • Ellis Island Medal of Honor, National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, 2000.
  • Heritage Award of Outstanding Public Service, Radford University, Radford, Virginia, 2000.
  • The Youth Corps Federal Champion Award, National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, 1998.
  • Presidential Citation, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, 1998.
  • Presidential Award, Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, Inc., 1997.
  • The Wally Cox Environmental Leadership Award, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, 1997.
  • Outstanding Hero Award for Leadership in Parks, Recreation and Conservation, Roundtable Associates, Inc., 1997.
  • The Frederick Guthiem Excellence in Planning Award, American Planning Association, 1997.
  • The International Salute Award for National Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and "for working to keep the Dream Alive." The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., International Salute Committee, 1996.
  • Lincoln Medal, Ford’s Theatre Society, 1996.
  • Distinguished Service Award, The National Council of Negro Women’s highest award, 1994.
  • The President’s Rank of Distinguished Senior Executive Award, Office of the President of the United States, 1993.
  • The Distinguished Service Award, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s highest award, 1987.