Lisa Eckert took over last month as superintendent of Albright Training Center.
She comes from Gateway National Recreation Area in New York City, where she was superintendent for two and a half years.
She has been with NPS for 26 years, and Grand Canyon is her 13th national park.
Starting at the University of Wisconsin with a major in elementary education, she'd changed it five times by the time she spent a summer waiting tables and working as a tour guide in Yellowstone National Park. That experience set her on the path to a Park Service career
"I don't think I knew exactly what I wanted to do," she said. "But I had this epiphany with going to Yellowstone. I came back to school and changed my major to biology."
She worked seasonally for eight years before joining the Park Service full-time. Since then, she's been what she terms "an omnivore ranger," working in law enforcement, search and rescue, fire, interpretation and resource management.
"I think that platform has been really great for me when I started as a superintendent," she said.
Ten years ago she became superintendent at Knife River Indian Village in North Dakota under a mentoring program. She said it focused her on the question of how she could make a difference on the superinten
Since then her assignments have also included Organ Pipe and Denali. She's moved frequently, she said, noting "I don't mind change." She said, though, that as she gets older she's been more open to considering whether she wants to put roots in a place.
She's been to Grand Canyon twice - in 1988 as a seasonal backcountry ranger and again in 1991 for the Ranger Skills class at Albright where she told instructor Dale Thompson that she wanted to come back and take his job.
She is excited to be returning in the approach to the Park Service Centennial.
"I thought what a wonderful legacy, to be able to work with new employees to insure career development and training opportunities," she said.
She also looks forward to ushering in the recommendations of a new learning and development report that former Albright Superintendent Costa Dillon has a hand in drafting. Dillon left Albright a year ago to take over as superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Though based at Grand Canyon National Park, Albright is its own NPS unit, as its companion training center at Harpers Ferry, W. Va. The superintendents of these schools report directly to Washington and not a regional director.