GATLINBURG, Tenn.— Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials are pleased to welcome two new members to the Park Management Team. Katie Liming will serve as the Management Assistant and Daniel “Boone” Vandzura will serve as the Chief Ranger to oversee the Visitor and Resource Protection Division.
As the park’s Management Assistant, which functions as Chief of Staff, Liming will work on strategic operations, legislative affairs and program analysis. Liming comes to the Smokies from the National Park Service’s National Capital Region, where she served as the region’s primary spokesperson and supported the 15 national parks in the Greater Washington, D.C. area in strategic communications and media relations.
“Katie’s clear communication style, desire to connect the public to national parks, and her deep understanding of National Park Service policies make her a great fit for the park’s management team,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “She is a natural leader and is already hard at work on high-level park projects.”
Liming received degrees from Michigan State University in public affairs and professional writing. She started her National Park Service career in 2015 at Glacier National Park as a seasonal public affairs specialist before moving to Washington, D.C., where she served as a public affairs fellow through Conservation Legacy with the National Capital Region Office of Communications. She then worked as the Executive Assistant to the National Park Service Deputy Director of Management and Administration and provided administrative support to the Washington Office budget, commercial services, human resources and information technology teams.
“It’s an honor to work at an iconic national park that has such a rich cultural history and welcomes millions of visitors each year,” said Liming. “I look forward to working with the park’s dynamic management team, partners, and local stakeholders in this position.”
Liming recently completed the Roger Kennedy Fellows Program at George Washington University and earned a certificate in Contexts of Environmental Policy. She also served as the acting public affairs specialist for Acadia National Park in 2022. From Cincinnati, OH, Liming is excited to live a little closer to family and work in the park she visited while growing up. She replaces Dana Soehn, who became the President and CEO of Friends of the Smokies in April after a 34-year career at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As Chief Ranger, Vandzura will lead the Visitor and Resource Protection Division which includes law enforcement, wildland fire, emergency medical services, search and rescue, backcountry operations, lands and rights-of-way office, and the emergency communications center.
“I am thrilled to welcome Boone to the Smokies and to the Park Management Team,” said Deputy Superintendent Alan Sumeriski. “Boone’s knowledge of law enforcement and emergency services, combined with his thoughtful approach to employee and community relationships, make him the perfect choice to run one of the agency’s busiest law enforcement and emergency services operations.”
Vandzura received his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in Recreation and Parks Management. He began his National Park Service career as a fee collector in Yellowstone National Park in 1994 and made his way up to the Emergency Services Director at Yellowstone in 2009. From 2015 to 2023, Vandzura served as the Chief Ranger of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
“I look forward to working with our highly skilled staff, emergency services partners, and the communities around the park to help protect visitors and resources in this special place,” said Vandzura.
Vandzura, his wife Jan, and their two adult children Elle and Hart are excited to move back to the mountains. Vandzura replaces Randy Scoggins, who retired in April after a 31-year career with the National Park Service.