A top human resources official at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the National Park Service has been named as the new superintendent of Grand Teton National Park.
David Vela serves as associate director for Workforce, Relevancy and Inclusion, overseeing Park Service programs in learning and development, equal opportunity and other areas, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.
Vela replaces Mary Gibson Scott, who retired last fall after nearly a decade as Grand Teton superintendent. He will begin his new duties sometime around the end of March.
Vela said he was “humbled at the opportunity,” and he looks forward to working with park staff, community members and partners.
“It is truly a spectacular place and one that provides inspiration and enjoyment for current and future generations to come,” he said.
Sue Masica, Intermountain Regional Director for the Park Service in Denver, said Vela has a “proven record of achievement in managing large and complex park operations.”
“He has also had great success in working with partners and local communities, and he is especially passionate about making our national parks more relevant to diverse population,” Masica said.
Vela previously served four years as director of the Park Service’s Southeast Region, where he oversaw 66 national park sites in nine states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
He began his Park Service career in 1981 as a cooperative education student at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, and later became a park ranger there. In 1984, he transferred to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in Virginia to serve as supervisory park ranger. Two years later, he moved to Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia as a district ranger.
From 1987 to 1998, Vela worked in a variety of federal posts outside the NPS. He was a special agent in the Department of Health & Human Services Inspector General’s office, conducting white-collar criminal investigations in New York and New Jersey. He also was special assistant for Hispanic affairs to the late U.S. Rep. George Thomas “Mickey” Leland of Texas.
He was a federal investigator for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In 1996, the Texas attorney general appointed Vela director of Texas Child Support Program, where he supervised more than 70 field offices and 2,400 employees.
Vela returned to the National Park Service in 1998 as superintendent of Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site in Texas, one of eight states in the Intermountain Region. In 2002, he became Texas state coordinator for the region. After a stint as superintendent of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas, he transferred in 2006 to George Washington Memorial Parkway in the Washington, DC area.
Vela is a graduate of Texas A&M University, with a bachelor of science degree in recreation and parks. He graduated from the U.S. Department of the Interior Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in May 2006. He and his wife, Melissa, have two grown children, Christina and Anthony, and four grandchildren.
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