First Female Chief Ranger

First Female Chief Ranger – Lisa Hendy will become the new Chief Ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April.

First Female Chief Ranger - Lisa Hendy will become the new Chief Ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April.

“I am looking forward to returning to my home state in the park that provided my first real outdoor adventures, It will be a pleasure to be involved in the efforts to protect a place that was so instrumental in defining my passions and ultimately my career.”

Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy

Hendy is a native of Chattanooga. She will be the first woman to hold this post. Yes, there has been many female rangers and Law Enforcement Officers, none of them has held the Chief Ranger position.

Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center, in a press release.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that Lisa Hendy has been selected as the new Chief Ranger. In April, Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center.

Hendy brings a wealth of experience to the position after serving at several parks with complex ranger operations including Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Arches National Park, and Rocky Mountains National Park. She is currently the Chief Ranger at Big Bend National Park where she has fostered interagency partnerships with local, state, federal, and international organizations to manage law enforcement and wildland fire operations.

“Lisa has demonstrated incredible leadership in managing law enforcement, fire, and search and rescue operations at some of the nation’s busiest parks,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “She’s built strong programs by investing in local partnerships with neighboring agencies to help make areas safer for visitors and residents. She is going to be a great addition to the park’s management team.”

Hendy has served in regional and national leadership roles as a member of the Intermountain Special Events and Tactics Team, National Search and Rescue Working Group, Pacific West and Intermountain Incident Management Teams, National Drowning Prevention Advisory Board, National Preventative Search and Rescue Working Group, and a lead instructor for National Technical Rescue Training. She’s also received several accolades for her performance including being the recipient of the prestigious Harry Yount National Park Ranger Award in 2011. This is a peer-nominated award and one of the highest recognitions that a park ranger can receive honoring excellence in protecting resources and serving visitors. In 2007, she received an Intermountain Region Exemplary Service Award for life saving efforts within Grand Canyon National Park.

Hendy grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn. and had her first backcountry experiences in the Smokies where she backpacked as a youth. She continues to be a tremendous outdoor enthusiast and enjoys kayaking, climbing, hiking, and canyoneering.

Hendy received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Auburn University with a major in Park and Recreation Management. She also received her Master of Science Degree from Utah State University in Biomechanics and Exercise Physiology. In addition to her Federal law enforcement commission, she is also a certified paramedic and has certifications as a structural firefighter, wildland firefighter, aviation manager, technical and swiftwater rescuer, and several leadership roles for incident management teams.

National Park Services Press Release


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