DENIS P. “DENY” GALVIN (1938 – )

Deny Galvin
Deny Galvin

We who have shared National Park Service Careers know it is a struggle to protect resources for present and future generations against the clamor of competing uses and values. But if not us, who?* Deny Galvin

Born into a blue collar Irish immigrant family in South Boston, Deny Galvin early on developed an appreciation for his community and for nature. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1961 with an engineering degree. After two years serving with the Peace Corps in East Africa, in 1963 he returned to the U.S. to take his first position with the NPS as a civil engineer at Sequoia National Park (NP) in California. He would spend the rest of his 38-year career contributing to and guiding the NPS with positions in various national parks, NPS regional offices, training centers, service centers, and NPS headquarters in Washington.

After leaving Sequoia, Galvin worked as an engineer at Mount Rainier NP and in the NPS Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta and then became a training specialist at the Horace M. Albright Training Center in Grand Canyon NP. In 1974 he was appointed Associate Regional Director for Operations at the Northeast Regional Office in Boston and two years later became the region’s deputy director. From 1978 to 1985 he headed the Denver Service Center in Colorado. In 1985 Galvin became deputy director of the NPS and would serve in that position for a combined total of nine years, spanning the Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. During this period, he would at times be called upon to serve as acting director. Throughout his remarkable career, he has retained a strong interest in and expertise in NPS management policies and repeatedly testified before the U.S. Congress on key issues related to parks and conservation. Guiding him was his belief that the NPS should be recognized more as “stewards of heritage rather than managers of land.”**

Though he retired from the NPS in 2002, Galvin has continued to work aggressively in support of parks and conservation. In 2008-2009 he served as member of the National Parks and Conservation Association’s Second Century Commission for the National Parks. He serves as an advisor to the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks and as a member of the NPCA Board of Trustees.

Galvin’s important contributions have been widely acknowledged within and outside NPS. The National Park Foundation, for example, awarded him the national Pugsley Medal for his role in advancing parks and conservation. He also received the Federal Government’s Presidential Rank Award and was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administrators. More recently the George Wright Society honored him with the George Melendez Wright Award for his lifetime of work on behalf of the national parks.

* Deny Galvin in his address to the Association of National Park Rangers at their annual Rendevous, December 8, 2005

* Lu Ann Jones, Oral History with Deny Galvin, February 26, 2014, p. 18.