NPS Digest announced today that Phil Francis, superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is retiring.
Since joining the National Park Service in 1972 at Kings Mountain National Military Park, Phil has tirelessly served in a variety of parks that have taken him from coast to coast, including such special places as Shenandoah National Park, Yosemite National Park, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Parks and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In 1994, Phil transferred to the Smokies after serving for three years as the associate regional director for administration in Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. After 11 years as deputy/acting superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Phil was asked to become the sixth superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, where he has served since 2005.
Phil’s assignments have provided him with the opportunity to work with numerous partner organizations and communities. He provided leadership in the creation of a number of new non-profit partners, including Blue Ridge Parkway 75, Inc., the Institute at Tremont, Experience Your Smokies, and Discover Life in America.
Phil has also been instrumental in the completion of several high-profile planning efforts, including the North Shore Road EIS at the Smokies and completion of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s first ever general management plan. During his career, Phil has had a hand in duties ranging from reenactments to law enforcement to budget formulation to directing a Youth Conservation Corps – and everything in between.
Phil is a 2003 graduate of the Department of Interior’s Senior Executive Service candidate development placement program. In 2005 Phil was awarded the Department of Interior’s Superior Service Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the National Park Service as assistant superintendent at the Smokies and acting superintendent of the Outer Banks Group and Blue Ridge Parkway as well as numerous other performance awards during his career.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander honored Phil in the Congressional Record in 2006 for his service at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Discover Life in America, which is conducting the first all species inventory of a national park, named a new species to science after Phil in appreciation for his support of the project.
Phil was born in Shelby, North Carolina, and raised in nearby Grover. He attended Kings Mountain High School and later graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science degree in administrative management. Phil is married to Dr. Becky Nichols, a scientist employed by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and he plans to spend his retirement enjoying the special places and people of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.
There will be a celebration of Phil’s career on April 6th in Asheville, North Carolina.
Hiking in the Smokies