New Leader of NPS Historic Preservation & Cultural Programs Announced

Stephanie Toothman and President Obama shaking hands in Washington, DC / Photo: NPS

Preservationists in the Northwest are thrilled to hear that Stephanie Toothman has been named the National Park Service’s new Associate Director for Cultural Resources.  Here’s the news release from the National Park Service, issued June 7, 2010.

Toothman to Lead Historic Preservation & Cultural Programs
Accomplished National Park Service Veteran Named to Post

WASHINGTON, DC – National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis has named Stephanie Smith Toothman, Ph.D., as the Service’s new Associate Director for Cultural Resources. Toothman will be responsible for history, historic preservation, and cultural programs in 392 national parks and a host of community programs that make-up the NPS role in a national preservation partnership among federal, Tribal, state and local governments and nonprofits.  She will begin her job in mid July.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Dr. Toothman’s proven expertise join our team,” said Jarvis.  “Her enviable knowledge of cultural resources, strong leadership skills, and long history of developing and maintaining successful partnerships make her the ideal person for the job.  She will hit the ground running, setting high standards for herself and these National Park Service programs so that they best serve the American people.”

“I’ve seen how telling a story like the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II or preserving a 1930s movie theater in Hoquiam, Washington, can bring together and energize a community,” said Toothman.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues in our parks and partnership organizations and communities throughout the nation to shape and strengthen our cultural resource programs to meet the challenges of the 21st century and fulfill the National Park Service’s responsibility to provide national leadership in historic preservation.”

From the Washington, DC, headquarters, Toothman will establish and oversee policies that affect the management of historic and cultural properties in all 392 national parks, including 27,000 historic structures, nearly 70,000 archeological sites, the largest system of museums in the world holding more than 100 million objects, artifacts and archives, and the historical research required to share the stories preserved in national parks.

Outside of parks, Toothman’s responsibilities include support for community-based efforts to preserve and share local history including grants programs that award millions of dollars annually, a tax credit program that incentives $5 billion a year in private investment, and programs that document and recognize history like National Historic Landmarks, National Register of Historic Places, and the Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, Historic American Landscapes Survey, and the Cultural Resources GIS survey.  Toothman will also manage the national Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and National Heritage Areas program, and an extensive national system of standards, guidance, and technical assistance that is the foundation of historic preservation work across the country.  In addition, Toothman will manage award-winning outreach programs like Teaching with Historic Places, an online series of more than 100 classroom-ready lesson plans, and the Discover Our Shared Heritage online travel itineraries.

Toothman comes to her new position from the NPS Pacific West Region where she is chief of cultural resource park and partnership programs.  During her 32-year career with the NPS, she has also served as a preservation planner in Washington, DC, and as regional historian, acting superintendent at Crater Lake National Park and the National Mall and Memorial Parks during the 2009 inauguration, and as acting director of the Interior Department’s Office of Youth.

As Chief of Cultural Resources in the Pacific West, she led an interdisciplinary team of cultural resource specialists that supported the region’s 58 parks and partnership programs providing technical assistance for national historic landmarks and National Register properties.  Toothman has participated in more than 30 park planning efforts, most recently as a team leader for the Manhattan Project Sites (Hanford) Special Resource

Study and the Bainbridge Island Japanese-American Memorial.   She led efforts to designate national historic landmarks as diverse as Forty Acres in Delano, California, established by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers of America; the Kam Wah Chung in John Day, Oregon;  and the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Newall, California.   She was recognized this year by the Washington State Historic Preservation Office with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her role in promoting partnerships such as the Maritime Heritage task force for Washington’s Puget Sound, and the Pacific Northwest Field School, a 15-year partnership of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon state parks and historic preservation offices coordinated by the University of Oregon.

Prior to joining the NPS, Toothman worked as a curatorial assistant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She graduated magna cum laude from Smith College and went on to receive her Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.  Toothman received the DOI Meritorious Service Award in 2008 and the Washington State Historical Society’s “Robert Gray Medal” in 1999.

Learn more about the National Park Service’s history and culture programs and opportunities for community assistance online.