A veteran of the national parks in Alaska has been named the new superintendent of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Seattle Unit. Jacqueline Ashwell replaces Karen Beppler-Dorn, who recently was named superintendent of Pinnacles National Monument in California.
Ashwell will assume her new role in September.
Here is the rest of the news release:
“Jacqueline is a perfect fit for this position. She knows the Klondike Gold Rush story and has a history of developing effective partnerships,” said Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz . “Her strong interpretive and cultural resources background, coupled with her experience with social media and other web-based tools, will help position the park for the future, as we strive to connect with new audiences and think about national parks in new ways.”
Ashwell currently serves as the Yakutat district ranger for Glacier Bay and Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks and Preserves in southeastern Alaska. Over the past two years, Ashwell has been responsible for the management of park operations in the four million acre district, which is distributed across two national park units and is located about 200 miles from either park’s headquarters, accessible only by air. Given this isolation, Ashwell has taken the lead role in representing the park in the local community, where she has built solid relationships with city, state, and tribal governments, other federal agencies, and stakeholders.
“In my new role as superintendent of Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Seattle, I am very much looking forward to working with gold rush history again and helping visitors connect to this fascinating part of our past. It’s a historic fabric woven from the stories of thousands of people, each of whom had unique reasons to head for the Klondike. There’s always something new to learn about this event; it never ceases to be interesting.”
Ashwell originally came to the National Park Service as a volunteer at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1993, where she was quickly brought into a student hire position. She worked to document the park’s 150+ historic cemeteries, a project that would eventually lead to her master’s thesis in historical archaeology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. In 2000, Ashwell moved to Alaska, where she began as the lead seasonal archeologist for Kennecott National Historic Landmark inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Parks and Preserves. She eventually moved into interpretation, filling the role of Yakutat district interpretive ranger. In 2004, she switched tracks again – this time to law enforcement. Ashwell served as the Dyea ranger for Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska from 2004-2009. She also enjoyed a long term detail as the chief ranger of Sitka NHP in 2009, and served on a National Park Service detail to Haiti, where she provided assistance on aspects of cruise ship interpretation, historic preservation, and law enforcement to Haitian parks. Ashwell is particularly interested in environmental management systems, workplace enrichment, connecting youth to parks, and the use of social media.
Ashwell will be moving to Seattle with her husband, Sam, and their two cats (both of whom have gold rush related names: Taiya and Skookum). Ashwell enjoys exploring the outdoors, book collecting, learning languages, programming and exploring interactive fiction, and practicing Kripalu Yoga.
“I’m eager to be in the city again, after so much time in the bush,” said Ashwell. “While I will miss Alaska a great deal, my husband and I love Seattle, and the lure of being able to connect with lots of other people who have similar interests is exciting.”