Seashore superintendent on assignment at GGNRA

05/17/2017

Cicely Muldoon, superintendent of the Point Reyes National Seashore, left her post in April to step in as the acting superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a position that hasn’t been permanently filled since last August. According to seashore spokesman John Dell’Osso, Ms. Muldoon will return in about four months. “It’s very common within the National Park Service to fill a vacant leadership position in this way,” Mr. Dell’Osso said. In April, he himself fulfilled Ms. Muldoon’s duties, but by May 1, Steve Mietz, the superintendent of Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada, had arrived to take up the position for the duration of her absence. The circumstances that triggered the calscade of open superintendent positions may be less common, however. Last summer, the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona retired amid allegations that his administration mishandled investigations into sexual harassment claims by park employees. In August, Chris Lehnertz, then the superintendent of G.G.N.R.A., left to permanently fill the post; G.G.N.R.A. employees and temporary fill-ins from other parks have occupied her position ever since. Mr. Dell’Osso said it’s typical to take several months to make a hire for leadership positions, and that the practice of superintendents filling other superintendent roles in the interim helps create more consistency within parks. The next logical question, he said, is “Who now will fill the open post at Great Basin?” Mr. Dell’Osso said the musical chairs “is all exacerbated by the federal hiring freeze,” and that although the new administration recently announced that it had lifted the freeze, there has been no guidance on how to proceed. So, as far as he’s concerned, it’s still in effect. It’s not the first time Mr. Dell’Osso, who has worked for the seashore for 34 years, has filled in as acting superintendent in the seashore; he’s done it multiple times, including last October, when Ms. Muldoon left for Yosemite National Park for three months to fill in as acting deputy superintendent after the resignation of Don Neubacher, a former seashore superintendent for 15 years who ultimately retired due to accusations of gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. Ms. Muldoon wrote in an email that she does not expect her absence to affect the many projects planned for the summer season, “as there is a very strong and seasoned team in place at the park to carry this work forward, and an experienced acting superintendent to fill in behind me.” She added that these kinds of assignments are “great learning opportunities” and help her gain extremely valuable experience in understanding the challenges other parks face.