Superintendent Phil Francis announces that Susan Gonshor has been selected as the Chief of Interpretation and Education at the Blue Ridge Parkway where she will manage a complex program that serves over 16 million visitors each year. Stretching 469 miles as the spine of the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway passes through 2 states and 29 counties. Annually, its interpretive staff contacts over 1 1/2 million visitors at 14 visitor centers and contact stations, through formal interpretive programs, informal contacts, demonstrations and special events, and through an extensive Parks as Classrooms program that reaches over 40,000 students.
Gonshor explains, “Having grown up in the East, I have wonderful memories of visiting the Appalachian Mountains. It is now my privilege to return to this area and work with park staff and its many partners to connect Parkway users to the incredible biodiversity and cultural history of the region and to help them create their own memories and connections to ‘America’s Favorite Journey’.”
Gonshor is currently the Chief of Interpretation, Education, Community Outreach and Partnerships at Biscayne National Park where for 9 years she has led a full program that twice received the Southeast Region’s Keeper of the Light award for excellence in Interpretation. Her accomplishments include co-chairing a 2-day BioBlitz that provided over 2,000 participants with the opportunity to explore, identify and count over 800 marine and terrestrial species within the park and served as a catalyst for developing and strengthening partnerships with 40 public, private, and special interest groups to provide community outreach and education to the diverse population in urban Miami; working with the NPS Submerged Resources Center and the National Association of Black Scuba Divers to develop a Department of the Interior award winning partnership where volunteer avocational archeologists are taught the skills needed to map and document the remains of numerous shipwrecks within the park; and successfully competing for numerous grants, including receiving funds to virtually connect the classrooms in south Florida to the park through live, interactive programs.
Prior to her Biscayne NP assignment, Gonshor served in several positions at Yosemite National Park, including Community Liaison and Outreach Coordinator, Public Affairs Specialist, District Interpreter, and Supervisory Park Ranger. She assisted the development and implementation of communications strategies for several high profile and controversial planning projects.
Her educational background includes dual Bachelor’s Degrees in biology and environmental science and a Master’s Degree in education with a minor in journalism.
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