Grady Spann announced Friday that he will retire as director of the Division of Arkansas State Parks at the end of this year.
Spann started his career with Arkansas State Parks in 1993 as superintendent of Parkin Archeological State Park. He was named director in 2016.
"My decision to retire was made knowing that we have a strong and talented team in place that will move Arkansas State Parks forward. A new director will have an opportunity to take the nation’s best park system to a new level of efficiency and service,” he said in a news release. “I believe the greatest accomplishment over the past six years has been just simply serving people and making them feel welcome in parks. Every park employee has played a vital role in this."
"I have a passion for 'honoring tradition while seeking innovation' within state parks. This has been my focus for the last six years," Spann continued. "I think it is important to honor the deep roots and history of state parks while continually seeking innovation and asking staff to be forward-thinking and relevant for today’s guests and generations to come."
Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism, said in the release that Spann was highly respected by his peers and that they wish him the best.
In 2002, Spann left his role at Parkin, transferring to Historic Washington State Park to serve as its superintendent. In 2005, he transferred to the Ozark Folk Center State Park, where he served as park superintendent until 2012. Then Spann was promoted to supervisor of the newly created Region 5, which oversees all lodge parks.
Prior to working for Arkansas State Parks, he served in the Army for nine years as a military tactical intelligence and counterintelligence officer. He was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and in Washington D.C.
Spann has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Brazilian Army's Pacifist Medal.
He also served as a park ranger after graduating from the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in 1995.
In addition, Spann is the past president of the National Association of State Park Directors, past president of the Association of Southeast State Park Directors, and past chairman of the Board of Regents for NASPD State Park Leadership School.