New Assateague Leader Appointed

ASSATEAGUE — National Park Service officials this month announced Deborah “Debbie” Darden has been named the new superintendent at the Assateague Island National Seashore, replacing former superintendent Trish Kicklighter, who left the post for a similar position out west in April.
Darden will become the superintendent at Assateague Island National Seashore after serving as deputy superintendent at the New River Gorge National River and the associated Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River for over a decade. National Park Service officials praised Darden for her organization and team-building skills among other attributes.
“The cornerstones of Debbie’s career are her ability to facilitate complex planning issues, foster productive teams and cultivate successful partnerships,” said NPS Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach. “These skills will serve the Assateague staff, community and visitors well.”
While at New River Gorge, the Texas native Darden developed highly functional partnerships with six gateway communities, multiple user groups, three counties and the Boy Scouts of America, who are now contributing tens of thousands of volunteer hours to the park annually through their new neighboring campus.
Darden also strategically addressed the park’s backlog of line-item construction projects, including 57 add-ons totaling $16.5 million. She also strengthened resource management and planning programs at the park, which led to the successful development of a new General Management Plan (GMP). Darden also managed several complex environmental assessments as part of the implementation phase of the park’s planning effort. Darden said this week she will draw on past experiences as she prepares to take the helm at Assateague.
“I am so honored to be selected as the superintendent of Assateague Island National Seashore,” she said this week. “I grew up near Padre Island National Seashore and I love barrier islands and their resources. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work with partners and staff to protect and provide for people’s recreation and learning about this extraordinary place.”
Darden takes over for Kicklighter, who left Assateague in April to become the superintendent of New River Gorge National River in Missouri, ironically the post Darden just left as deputy superintendent. Kicklighter became the superintendent at Assateague in 2009.