Booker T. Washington National Monument has a new superintendent temporarily. James Williams moved into the position in October, transferring from a position as museum curator at Everglades National Park in Florida.
Williams is taking over for Superintendent Robin Snyder while she fills in temporarily as the deputy superintendent at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. The deputy superintendent there is temporarily filling in at the Everglades National Park. The former deputy superintendent there permanently took a position at the National Park Service Headquarters in Washington D.C.
The job shift is not unusual for National Park Service staff, Williams said. The temporary move allows the parks to quickly put someone in a position to give qualified applicants ample time to apply.
The change also allows park staff to try new positions and see new areas of the country, which is one of the reasons Williams said he took the position. He took a similar temporary position several years ago at Fort Stanwix National Monument in New York.
“It’s just been a wonderful experience,” Willams said of the temporary assignment at Booker T. Washington National Monument. He is also filling in as superintendent at Appomattox Court House National Historic Park where Snyder also serves as superintendent.
This is not Williams’ first time at Booker T. Washington National Monument. He also came as a visitor in the 1980s. He admitted that it was hard to recognize the area compared to when he saw it more than 30 years ago.
Despite the changes, Williams said he enjoys seeing and experiencing the history of Booker T. Washington National Monument, Appomattox Court House National Historic Park and other nearby parks. His background is in history and was previously a history professor.
Williams said he has been especially impressed with the community and its support of the park through groups such as the Friends of Booker T. Washington National Monument. “It was obvious even before I got here that the community cares about the park,” he said.
Annual park events, including the Harvest Time festival and Olde Virginia Christmas, were canceled this year because of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Williams said it was disappointing not to be a part of those programs while serving as superintendent.
Williams is expected to return to Florida in February when Snyder returns. He said he has learned a lot in his time here.