Member Biography

Fran P. Mainella

Fran P. Mainella
Visiting Scholar Clemson University
Former National Park Service Director

Fran Mainella joined Clemson University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management on November 1, 2006 as a Visiting Scholar. Her areas of focus include children and getting them back to nature and the outdoors as well as the health benefits of parks. She also continues to focus on partnerships and the seamless network of parks.  Fran is currently a member of Newsweek Magazine’s Environmental Advisory Board, a board member of the National Society for Park Resources, a fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, a member of the Advisory Board for the Children and Nature Network, and a speaker on parks, natural and cultural resources, health, and children and nature.

Previously, Director Mainella completed nearly six years as the 16th director and the first woman to lead the National Park Service. Appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate, she has more than 40 years’ experience in park and recreation management. She has worked alongside 20,000 employees and more than 125,000 volunteers.

Director Mainella enhanced an agency already renowned for its dedication to its mission and its service to Americans and people around the world. She strengthened programs that preserve natural and cultural resources both inside and outside national parks.Under her leadership, the National Park Service was reduced a massive maintenance backlog that affected all 390 national parks and worked to improve scientific research through an initiative known as the Natural Resource Challenge.

Director Mainella believes that partnerships, strengthened volunteerism, and outreach programs better serve both park resources and people by achieving collaborative conservation. Her vision for a seamless system of parks, historic places and open spaces means that collaboration with other land managers, states, nonprofit organizations, and corporations is the expected way of doing business.

Before being appointed to lead the National Park Service, she applied her skills and philosophy as director of Florida’s Division of Recreation and Parks.During this time, Florida State Parks became a model for volunteer and partnership programs. The National Sporting Goods Association and the National Recreation and Park Association honored Florida State Parks with their Gold Medal Award, which recognized Florida as the best state park system in the country.

She has served as executive director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association and as president of both the National Recreation and Park Association and the National Association of State Park Directors.

In 2002, Clemson University presented her with its Walter T. Cox Award, which recognizes leadership in public service, public land administration, and natural and cultural resource policy. The American Recreation Coalition also presented her with its 2002 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. In 2006, she was awarded the William Penn Mott, Jr. Award for Excellence by the National Society for Park Resources. In 2007, the Clemson University Board of Trustees presented her with an award for faculty excellence. Clemson also recently named an award in her honor to encourage women to pursue conservation careers. Most recently Fran was presented the 2007 Pugsley Award for outstanding national leadership, the highest award given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.

Director Mainella holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State College. Central Connecticut State University (formerly College) conferred upon her an honorary Doctor of Public Service.