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Shea Lewis Picked to Lead Arkansas State Parks

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Arkansas State Parks executive Shea Lewis has been named the agency’s new director, overseeing more than 54,000 acres of outdoor spaces, museums, and cultural and historic resources across the state.

Lewis of Hot Springs took over Monday for Grady Spann, who retired Dec. 31 after 28 years with Arkansas State Parks. Spann had been director since 2016.

Lewis has worked for the agency, a division of the state Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism, for 24 years. He was previously the deputy director, a position he held since 2017. 

Lewis began his career with Arkansas State Parks as a seasonal interpreter at Millwood State Park and Village Creek State Park before becoming a full-time interpreter at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park and Crowley’s Ridge State Park, the agency said in a news release. He was promoted to superintendent at Parkin Archeological State Park in 2004 and then served as a regional supervisor for eight years.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Lewis has a “proven track record of accomplishment.” He said the parks system and its resources “couldn’t be left in better hands.” 

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism, described Lewis as a “hard worker and a thoughtful leader.” 

“Because he has served at multiple levels within Arkansas State Parks, he is fully familiar with the complex operation of our system,” Hurst said. “I know that he will hit the ground running, and I look forward to his contributions that will make our wonderful state parks even better.”

Lewis received a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree in education/instructional resources and media design from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He now leads the operation of 52 state parks and a central office including administration, planning and development, marketing and revenue, program services and five regional offices. He also oversees the $158 million annual budget appropriated for the division’s responsibilities.

Lewis’ salary is $120,002.

“Arkansas State Parks has a great tradition of protecting and managing the resources entrusted to us, as well as offering memorable experiences,” Lewis said in the release. “It is my goal to continue that tradition while implementing innovative ways to guarantee relevancy for the next generation of park guests.”

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