Mamie Aselean Parker (1957–)
Mamie Aselean Parker is a trail-blazing conservationist. The first African American to hold numerous positions in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), she ultimately served as northeastern regional director of the service. Since her retirement from the USFWS, she has been an active consultant and public speaker.
Mamie Parker was born on October 14, 1957, in Wilmot (Ashley County). Her mother, Cora Parker, was a single parent who supported her family as a sharecropper and was determined that her eleven children (of whom Mamie was the youngest) would receive an education. Named after President Dwight Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, Parker shared her mother’s love of fishing, which ended up shaping her eventual career path. Parker grew up in Wilmot and was the salutatorian at Wilmot High School. She went on to the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), where she earned a BS in biology in 1980. She later earned an MS in fish and wildlife management and a PhD in limnology from the University of Wisconsin.
Joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1978, Parker began her twenty-nine-year career with the service working in the Fish Health Laboratory in Wisconsin. Over the course of her lengthy career, she worked in a variety of posts around the country, including in Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Washington DC. She held the position of ecosystem coordinator in the Great Lakes and Big Rivers Region, and she also worked in an array of programs, including national wetlands, coastal mapping, national fish hatcheries, marine mammals, and wetland restoration. Parker was the service’s point person for negotiations with General Electric in the effort to clean up the Hudson River, and she was responsible for getting Atlantic salmon included on the endangered species list, as well as protecting American waters from invasive species such as snakehead fish and Asian carp. She served as assistant director of the Board of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation at the USFWS and was appointed USFWS regional director of the thirteen northeastern states, becoming the first black person to serve in the positions of deputy regional director and regional director in the service’s history. She also contributed a chapter to The Future of Fisheries: Perspectives for Emerging Professionals, published by the American Fisheries Society in 2014.
Her accomplishments have been recognized with numerous accolades. She was the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the highest honor the president can bestow upon government employees, as well as the Ira Gabrielson Award, given by the USFWS for outstanding leadership. In 2005, she became the first African American inducted into the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame. In addition, Good Housekeeping magazine recognized her with the Women in Government Leadership Award, and she was named the Simon Haley Distinguished Lecturer by her alma mater, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, into whose Hall of Fame she has also been inducted.
Upon retirement from the government in 2007, Parker established MA Parker and Associates, a Virginia-based management consulting and public-speaking firm for which she serves as president. Parker is also involved in numerous nonprofit organizations, serving on the board of directors of the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Defenders of Wildlife, and the Chesapeake Conservation Steering Committee. She serves on the advisory council of the environmental and conservation company Marstel-Day and has been active in African Americans Against Alzheimer’s. In 2016, she was awarded the Emmeline Moore Prize by the American Fisheries Society.
For additional information:
Bryan, John. “Pioneers: Dr. Mamie Parker.” US. Fish and Wildlife Service. http://www.fws.gov/fisheries/pdf_files/pioneers_dr_mamieparker.pdf (accessed October 22, 2020).
“Mamie A. Parker, PhD.” Marstel-Day. http://www.marstel-day.com/our-company/staff/mamie-parker/ (accessed October 22, 2020).
Martin, Michel. “From Fishing with Mom to Becoming a Top Fisheries Official.” National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/2015/07/14/421141198/from-fishing-with-mom-to-becoming-a-top-fisheries-official (accessed October 22, 2020).
William H. Pruden III
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