Press Release Apr 3, 2019

Parks Group Honors Park Heroes at Centennial Salute to the Parks Celebration

The event will celebrate NPCA’s century of protecting national parks and pay tribute to national park advocates who have worked to protect and enhance our parks.

WASHINGTON – At its centennial year Salute to the Parks celebration, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) will honor three influential park champions: former National Park Service Deputy Director Denis Galvin, Executive Director of The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) Sylvia Cyrus, and renowned nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen. The event will celebrate NPCA’s century of protecting national parks and pay tribute to national park advocates who have worked to protect and enhance our parks. The evening reception will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. on April 3, 2019.

Sylvia Cyrus will receive the Centennial Leadership Award for her dedication to protecting and preserving the African American experience in our national parks. Under Sylvia’s leadership, ASALH supported NPCA’s work on campaigns to create two national park sites dedicated to telling the important stories of the first African American labor union and the struggle for Civil Rights with Pullman National Monument in Chicago and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Most significant of all, Sylvia helped guide the National Park Service in their efforts to rehabilitate and reopen the Carter G. Woodson home in Washington, DC, where Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” spent a substantial amount of time researching, documenting and distributing information on African American history and achievements.

“Sylvia’s passion for protecting and preserving the African American experience and stewardship for national parks is awe-inspiring,” said Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association. “From preserving a critical chapter in the civil rights movement with the designation of Birmingham, to illuminating important stories of American industry, labor, urban planning and the first African American union at Pullman, Sylvia’s efforts to honor and engage all of our nation’s people will have a lasting impact on our National Park System for generations to come.”

“I celebrate our roots in the national parks - they are here, and migration has expanded their impact,” said Sylvia Cyrus. “Where would we be without educational opportunities outside the classroom in community spaces? Most importantly, our national parks are part of this story. Preservation and expansion of the back story of each park and African American contributions is my mission and through ASALH I live to work daily with NPCA to advocate for their protection. Our future lies in enhancing our parks reaching out to all communities to visit, learn and share.”

Former National Park Service Deputy Director Denis Galvin will also receive the Centennial Leadership Award for his outstanding contributions toward preparing our national parks for their second century of service to the American people. Deny joined the National Park Service in 1963 as a civil engineer at Sequoia National Park and then worked as an engineer at Mount Rainier and training specialist at Grand Canyon. Over his distinguished Park Service career, Deny’s contributions and his dedication to public service led him to take on the prestigious role of deputy director for the National Park Service and served in that position for nine years under the Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. During his remarkable career, Deny established the Natural Resource Challenge, creating a new source of funding to increase the role of science in decision-making within the Park Service and developed a long-term protection plan for Sequoia National Park’s giant forest of 3000-yr old trees that at the time, were threatened by sprawling development.

“Deny is a treasure and an institution for America’s national parks,” said Pierno. “From testifying as an expert witness on Capitol Hill to serving on the National Parks Second Century Commission, he has shown time and again that his expertise and broad understanding of national park issues are as relevant as ever. NPCA and our National Park System have benefitted from his unwavering support to protect our nation’s heritage and most treasured natural wonders.”

“Advocating for the parks and related programs is always necessary,” said Deny Galvin. “We are a democracy – advocacy is a duty and a privilege. I am honored to receive this recognition from NPCA. For 100 years they have served the nation by spearheading the protection and growth of our amazing National Park System.”

Thomas D. Mangelsen, world-renowned nature and wildlife photographer and advocate, will receive the prestigious Robin W. Winks Award for enhancing public understanding of national parks. The award is given annually to an individual or organization that has effectively communicated the values of the National Park System to the American public. Mangelsen has dedicated more than 40 years to observing and photographing the Earth’s last great wild places. His award-winning limited-edition images have been collected by thousands around the world. Utilizing his powerful photographs, Mangelsen was a leader in the campaign against the illegal removal of federal protections and a subsequent hunt of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears. He also donated photos to NPCA, in support of its work to defend Grand Teton and Yellowstone grizzly bears, as well as to stop the barbaric hunting of wolves and bears in Alaska. Mangelsen’s images in the campaigns were seen by millions and helped NPCA activate public comments by more than 33,000 park advocates across the country.

“Tom has the power to inspire us through his camera lens and also move people to action, as a passionate and committed conservationist,” said Pierno. “His ability to convey stories through his stunning images of the landscapes and wildlife within our national parks are powerful reminders of threats they face. Tom’s partnership in our work to protect grizzlies and wolves, from Grand Teton to Denali inspired tens of thousands of advocates to speak up and became one of the most visible campaigns in NPCA’s 100-year history.”

“Our National Parks can be more powerful than most imagine: whether inspired by a grand vista, moved by a wildlife encounter, or touched by history, visiting a national park can alter one’s life in unexpected ways,” said Tom Mangelsen. “The course of my life likely took a different path following my first visit to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and now having NPCA use my images to aid in their advocacy for these same parks and their wildlife is truly an honor. These special places need as many voices as possible speaking for them and NPCA stands among the best.”

The National Parks Conservation Association’s annual Salute to the Parks awards reception offers one of the largest and most influential gatherings of the conservation and environmental communities. This annual event celebrates our national parks and the people around the country who speak up on their behalf.


About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit