Mike Ward, who has served as the superintendent of Voyageurs National Park for the past seven years, has accepted a new position as superintendent at Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. Ward has served in the Midwest Region of the National Park Service for his entire 32-year career. Voyageurs National Park Maintenance and Facility Manager William K. Carlson has been named acting superintendent at Voyageurs. In announcing the appointment, Midwest Regional Director Cam Sholly said, "Mike has the right blend of experience to take the helm at the Arch. He has a proven track record of leading complex operations and building strong coalitions with partners and communities.”
"Mike and his family are members of VNPA and he has always gone above and beyond to find ways to make our partnership with the park grow and have greater impact. His collaborative focus has left a great legacy here," commented Christina Hausman, Executive Director of Voyageurs National Park Association.
Ward commented in the International Falls Journal that he counts many highlights while serving as Voyageurs' superintendent.
“The headquarters, additions to ice roads, implementation of the reservation system, work with the International Joint Commission that is culminating, the sewer project, beefing up snowmobile operations, the bike trail, the new tour boat... the list goes on,” he said. “Mostly, I appreciate and am humbled by the partnerships and relationships that were nurtured and created.”
Prior to serving at Voyageurs, Ward spent 16 years in the St. Louis area at Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site as superintendent and facilities manager, and began his career in 1983 at Lincoln Home National Historic Site in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.
In 2009, Ward received the MWR Director’s Award for Natural Resources as Superintendent of the Year for his work related to air quality at Voyageurs. In 2002, he was a co-recipient of the John Wesley Powell Prize for Preservation from the Society for History in Federal Government.
In 2000, he was a co-recipient of the Cultural Resources 2000 Award from the NPS Director for leading, training, & developing a day labor crew into skilled historic preservation experts who served 27 parks in project support.
He has been married to Betsy Carlson-Ward since 1993 and has a son, Connor who attends the University of Minnesota, and a daughter Libby who just started high school. The Ward family will miss the beauty of the north woods and the wonderful people they have met in Minnesota, but are happy to be returning closer to extended family.