Fran P. Mainella

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Fran P. Mainella

Frances P. Mainella (born 1947) was the 16th Director of the National Park Service of the United States and first woman to hold that position. She was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001. She announced her retirement in July 2006 and resigned effective October 15, 2006. Mary A. Bomar, was sworn-in as the 17th Director on October 17, 2006.[1] She was in charge of the NPS when it allowed Redskin's Owner Dan Snyder to illegally remove 130 trees from his property, and while the park ranger who blew the whistle on this activity was persecuted at length. She subsequently gave contradictory accounts of this to federal investigators. [2]

She currently is a visiting scholar at Clemson University where she is Co-Chair of the US Play Coalition - a partnership to promote the value of play throughout life. Additionally, she serves as Chair of the Public Lands Advisory Council to the National Environmental Education Foundation, a member of Newsweek Magazine’s Environmental Advisory Board, a Fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, a member of the Board of Directors for the Children and Nature Network, a member of the Board of Directors for the National Park Trust, Chair of the National Recreation and Park Foundation, and a national speaker on Nature Deficit Disorder, Play and Parks and Recreation.

She was born in Willimantic, Connecticut and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree from Central Connecticut State College. In 2002 she received an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from Central Connecticut State University.

Prior to her position at the National Park Service, Fran served twelve years as Director of Florida’s State Parks, which were awarded the Gold Medal Award, recognizing Florida as the best state park system in the country.[1]

In 1998 she received the Pugsley Medal “ for outstanding leadership in enhancing the Florida State Park system”[2] In addition Clemson University, and the Hartzog Fund named an award after her in 2003 in recognition of her service. The Fran P. Mainella Award is subtitled the "Outstanding Woman in Park Resources Award."[3]


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. From 2007-2010, 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. In 2007, Fran was presented the Pugsley Medal a second time for outstanding national leadership, the highest award given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. Fran is one of very few that have ever received this high recognition twice.

She has also been selected as the Metcalf Lecturer for SUNY- Cortland, the first ever Ralph Steele Lecturer for East Carolina University, and the Calhoun Lecturer for Clemson University. In 2011, Mainella received the outstanding alumni of the year award from the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education.

Additionally, she has written many article and book publications including the introduction to National Geographic’s 10 Best of Everything National Parks and an acknowledgement to Richard Louv’s new book: The Nature Principle.


Title Location From To
Visiting Scholar Clemson University - Clemson, SC November 2006 Present
16th Director of the National Park Service Washington, D.C. July 2001 October 2006
Director of Florida State Parks Tallahassee, FL October 1989 July 2001
Executive Director - Florida Recreation and Park Association Tallahassee, FL March 1983 October 1989
Director of Recreation Lake Park, FL December 1978 March 1983

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Government offices
Preceded by
Robert Stanton
Director of the National Park Service
2001 – 2006
Succeeded by
Mary A. Bomar