The first director to rise from entry-level ranger to head the North Carolina state parks system, Lewis Ledford has served as director since 2003. He has spearheaded unprecedented park creation and acquisition initiatives. State park lands have increased by over 50,000 under his leadership, and system is at record levels for visitation. He has been the driving force in establishment of iconic tourists destinations Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock becoming state parks; other additions include Haw River, Carvers Creek and Mayo River and Mountains-to-Sea State Trail expansion. Lewis has innovated and enabled fresh approaches and unique partnerships with volunteers, private enterprise and non-governmental organizations resulting in the expansion of parks, increased effectiveness of programs, improved community relationships and public advocacy and legislative support for parks, and customer service to park patrons; and administers a sizeable trust fund grants program parks, resulting in over $437 million being invested in local and state parks in the last ten years.
Affiliations: NRPA Board of Directors, 2008-present, Public Policy Chair, 2010-present;, NASPD Board of Directors since 2007, Vice President 2012-2013; NASORLO Board of Directors, 2004-2010; Federal Advisory Committee, Recreation Resources, USFS; 2012-present; Board Member, NCRPA 2003-present;
Recognitions: William Penn Mott Jr. Award, 2007; Governor’s Award for Excellence, 2011; N.C. Wildlife Federation Conservationist of the Year, 2011; Lifetime Achievement Award N.C.S.U., College of Natural Resources; President's Award, NASPD, 2006, 2007, 2009; Citizen's Award, American Society of Landscape Architects, 2011. Appalachian State University Alumni of the Year, 2012. [current as of 10/13]