PHILADELPHIA — Jennifer Smith is returning to her roots: She’s been named the superintendent of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.
“Jennifer’s long history with the park and her personal connection to the New Bedford community make her a great fit for this position,” said National Park Service Northeast Region Director Gay Vietzke in a statement. “A New Bedford native, Jennifer was also one of the first park employees. During her 21 years at the park, Jennifer has demonstrated a deep passion for the park’s story and a wide range of critical skills that will serve her well in her new role.”
Smith’s first day with the National Park Service was the day of the park’s dedication on May 17, 1998, said Smith.
“I have watched the park grow into an important and vibrant part of the community. I am eager to continue to collaborate with park and community partners, including the City of New Bedford, to provide increased opportunities to access and explore the park and surrounding historic district.
“The buildings in the park are vital links to the fascinating history of New Bedford. One of my priorities will the ongoing maintenance and preservation of these structures which provide tangible and meaningful connections to the city’s multilayered past.”
Smith, who has been acting superintendent of New Bedford Whaling NHP since April 2018, started with the National Park Service in January 1998 and later became the park’s first seasonal park ranger. She has also served as the park’s chief of Visitor Services, Interpretation and Education, the site manager at Roger Williams National Memorial, and the deputy superintendent of a three-park group that included Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and Roger Williams National Memorial, according to a news release.
Smith has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a master’s degree in community planning with a concentration in urban design and historic preservation from the University of Rhode Island.
Smith is an avid birder and lives in New Bedford with her husband, Christian, and their four dogs. They have three grown children and a grandchild who also live in New Bedford.