LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A veteran employee of Arkansas State Parks will now lead the agency, state officials announced Monday.

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, announced Shea Lewis as the new director. He brings more than 20 years of experience with the Arkansas State Parks including roles in day-to-day operations and executive leadership.

He received a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and leisure studies from the University of Memphis and a master’s degree in education/instructional resources and media design from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Lewis said his goal is to continue the Natural State’s tradition of protecting and managing resources as well as working to keep the parks relevant for the future generation of park guests.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Lewis has been successful in his roles with the ASP and believes that he is a great person for the position.

“Our parks system offers not only the outdoor recreation that The Natural State is so well known for, but it also protects and showcases our state’s history and heritage,” Hutchinson said. “These resources couldn’t be left in better hands, and I know Shea will continue the legacy of his predecessors Grady Spann, Greg Butts and Richard Davies.”

Officials with the Arkansas State Parks said Lewis began in the role Monday after former director Grady Spann retired on Dec. 31, 2021.

According to ASP officials, the director has many duties including leading the operation of 52 state parks and overseeing the $158 million annual budget for the division’s responsibilities.