Superintendent, Grand Canyon National Park
2017 Speaker • CU Alumnus

Grand Canyon, AZ

Chris Lehnertz is the current and 19th superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, one of the most famous and visited in the National Park system. Lehnertz is a Colorado native and University of Colorado alumna (EPOBio’85), and is the first woman to oversee Grand Canyon since it was first set aside as public space more than 100 years ago.

In her previous job, she led Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes Alcatraz Island and San Francisco’s Presidio and is the second most visited National Park Service site. Earlier Lehnertz was deputy superintendent at Yellowstone. From 2010 to 2015 she oversaw the park service’s entire Pacific West Region, which covers the six westernmost states plus the South Pacific islands of Guam, Saipan and American Samoa. In those roles she’s navigated an astonishing diversity of issues — including a proposal to build the country’s largest landfill on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park in southern California and a bitter battle over dog leash policies in Golden Gate. 

As superintendent of the Grand Canyon National Park her primary task will be improving working conditions and morale among the park’s roughly 500 employees following a federal investigation that found “evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and hostile work  environment” within the park. Other initial priorities include cultivating relationships with 11 Native American tribes long associated with the park and telling the story of climate change, an aim for the entire National Park Service.