National Park Service (NPS) South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Stan Austin announced the selection of Tracy Swartout as the new superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway, effective May 23.
“We are excited to select Tracy to lead one of the country’s most visited parks in the National Park System,” said Austin. “Tracy is an exceptional leader with a solid record of performance, managing multi-faceted park operations and collaborating to achieve important agency and community objectives. Her experience, commitment to operational excellence and passion for inclusive public participation make her well-suited for this role.”
“Throughout my life, the Blue Ridge Parkway has played a prominent role, with some of my most treasured memories being shaped along that winding road and in the national parks and communities beyond. The area’s landscape, arts, music and culture are deeply meaningful for me,” said Swartout. “I am honored to join the talented park team and dedicated network of community and nonprofit partners to serve in this critical leadership role. I look forward to extending these relationships as we chart the future of the Blue Ridge Parkway together.”
Swartout is a 21-year veteran of the National Park Service. Since 2012, Swartout has served as the deputy superintendent at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, where she was responsible for operations and leadership at the iconic 250,000-acre national park with designated wilderness, six affiliated tribes and a complex National Historic Landmark District. At various times during her nine-year term at Mount Rainier National Park, Swartout also served as the park’s acting superintendent, acting deputy regional director for NPS resource management and planning in the pacific west and NPS Partnership Council representative.
Prior to her move out west, Swartout served as the superintendent for Congaree National Park in South Carolina. There, she worked closely with the park’s friends group and community partners to expand the park’s acreage and deepen the shared history of the park with important cultural sites nearby, including the Harriet Barber House, recently recognized as a part of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. Swartout was recognized as the southeast region’s Superintendent of the Year in 2012.
During her early NPS career, Swartout led the NPS Business Management Group in Washington, D.C., providing management consulting for parks across the country. For seven years, she recruited, hired and mentored teams to develop business plans for over 75 parks across the country, including Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Before joining the NPS, Swartout worked for the National Parks Conservation Association.
A Columbia, South Carolina, native, Swartout holds a Bachelor of Arts in geography from the University of South Carolina. While in college, she served as a page and legislative aide for the Medical, Municipal and Military Affairs Committee in the South Carolina State House of Representatives. Swartout also holds a masters degree in environmental studies with an emphasis in natural resources from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She has completed postgraduate work in environmental management and coastal geology at Duke University and completed the United States Department of Agriculture’s executive leadership program.
Outside of work, Swartout enjoys spending time with family and friends in the outdoors, quilting, pottery and live music. She and her husband intend to relocate to the Asheville area this June with their children and two dogs.