John Wessels, who has served as the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region associate director for administration, business and technology since 2004, has been named director of the region, the largest in the agency.
Mr. Wessels succeeds Mike Snyder, who opted to take retirement not long after Jon Jarvis took the helm of the Park Service. While the Park Service director never came out and directly said it, Mr. Snyder’s management style was widely criticized in the Intermountain Region for taking a predetermined approach when it came to cutting both personnel and programs.
“John has an incredible track record of tackling tough issues and finding
innovative solutions,” Director Jarvis said Monday in announcing the appointment. “Results-oriented and goal-driven, John manages by inclusion, building a collaborative work ethic among employees and with partners. He strives for the highest standards of transparency and accountability. He has an easy grasp of the big picture and is dedicated to the effective use of new and emerging technologies to meet the needs of the National Park Service.
“As the National Park Service looks toward its second century, he will be a valuable member of our national senior management team.”
Mr. Wessels called the appointment a “tremendous honor.”
“The region is home to some of this country’s most spectacular landscapes and most compelling stories, places that have been entrusted to the National Park Service by the American people for nearly 100 years. It is our privilege to care for the natural and cultural resources in parks and to work with communities around the region to help them preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities for their citizens.
“For me, this is an opportunity to support employees in their dedicated efforts to care for these special places and engage park visitors, partners, and communities,” he added in a prepared statement. “I will listen carefully to their voices as we work together to preserve these places, engage the public, draw young people to the parks, and provide meaningful experiences to our diverse audiences.”
During the last 18 months, Mr. Wessels has led the investment of $200 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds in priority park projects across the region. He was the key figure in developing a virtual acquisition strategy that has improved accountability and empowered the workforce with more flexibility for purchasing and contracting, according to the Park Service. He was responsible for overseeing property management for 43 million acres of public land and more than 2,000 park structures.
Mr. Wessels joined the Park Service in 2000 as the Intermountain Region’s comptroller, where he managed all finance and budget-related activities and developed a web-based system to integrate financial systems data and project information to provide park managers with real-time access to critical income and expense data by park.
During his career he has served as acting deputy superintendent at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco, acting deputy Intermountain regional director, acting associate director for business services at the National Park Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., and most recently as acting superintendent of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway in Wyoming.
From 1989 to 2000, Wessels worked for U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder managing financial and administrative functions and systems for the national physics laboratory.
The Intermountain Region spans the states of Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The region includes 92 parks encompassing 11.1 million acres; employs 6,000 permanent and seasonal employees, and generates one-half of all National Park Service concession revenues. It has more than 230 national historic landmarks and more than 11,000 properties listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.