Senior Advisor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior; Director, U.S Park Service
In 1962, Robert Stanton was one of the first African Americans recruited by then Interior Secretary Stewart Udall to serve as a seasonal ranger in the National Park Service. The Secretary certainly picked a winner. Stanton rose through the professional ranks to become the first African American superintendent of a national park and in 1997, the first Director of the National Park Service. He has served in the Obama Administration as a senior executive and advisor to the Secretary of the Interior.
Stanton is proud of the Park Service’s work on the Natural Resource Challenge, a program to improve the organization’s resource management, and he secured bipartisan support of congressional funding to implement its recommendations. He applauds major initiatives to reverse degradation of unique natural resources and settings such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Florida Everglades. He also hosted the first Youth Conservation Corps involving young people in conservation and preservation programs when he was a superintendent in the National Capital Region. He acknowledges the concern that young people are spending too much time in front of their computer screens to get outside and enjoy nature, but observes that his generation spent much more time outdoors partly because there was no alternative except radios and a few channels of black and white TV!
He notes with pride that during his tenure as Director, Congress passed legislation designating the Little Rock Central High School a national historic site to commemorate the courage of the nine young AfricanAmericans who integrated the school. Stanton is an eloquent advocate for the recognition of the historic contributions of African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other minorities in national sites and settings. He is the best witness for continuing work to attract more Americans from minority communities to join the environmental movement as volunteers, professional people, and leaders to advance environmental justice for all.