Trump taps Grand Teton super to head National Park Service

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – After leaving the job vacant for nearly 19 months, President Trump today announced the nomination of the superintendent of Grand Teton National Park as the 19th director of the National Park Service.

David Vela, 57, has been GTNP super since 2014. The Texas native becomes the first Hispanic-American to head the agency. It is also the first time a NPS director has come from Grand Teton.

US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke praised the announcement.

“David Vela has demonstrated all of the ideals that the National Park Service stands for, and his long track record of leadership on behalf of the people and places of the National Park Service distinguish him as the right man for the job,” Zinke said. “Our extraordinary national parks will be in the best of hands with David at the helm.”

“I am deeply humbled by the President’s nomination to serve as the 19th Director of the National Park Service, and if confirmed, I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke to address the NPS maintenance backlog, protect our national treasures, and serve all who come to enjoy the parks,” Vela responded. “Having worn the uniform of the National Park Service for more than 28 years, I greatly value all that it represents and the importance of ensuring that we build a next generation workforce that is ready to take on the challenges and opportunities facing our agency.”

Vela is a 28-year career veteran of the National Park Service. He began his tenure as superintendent of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway in March 2014.

“Few people have the knowledge, passion and appreciation for our amazing national parks as David Vela,” said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead. “He has been a good partner to Wyoming and an effective leader at Grand Teton National Park. I am excited to see his name move forward. National Parks will be in great hands with David at the helm.”

Prior to Grand Teton, Vela served as associate director for Workforce, Relevancy and Inclusion in the NPS’ Washington headquarters. Before his time in Washington, Vela served for over four years as director of the NPS’ Southeast Region, where he oversaw 66 national park sites in nine states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Vela began his NPS career in 1981 as a cooperative education student at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, and later became a permanent park ranger.  From 1987 to 1998, the Texas A&M grad worked in a variety of federal posts outside the NPS.

Vela and his wife, Melissa, have two children, Christina and Anthony, and six grandchildren.

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