The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

State & National News

June 12, 2014

DENR announces leadership appointments to state parks and zoo

Thursday, June 12, 2014 —

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today announced two major appointments within its divisions: Mike Murphy as director of state parks and Patricia (Pat) Simmons as deputy director and chief operating officer of the North Carolina Zoo.

As its director, Murphy will oversee the state’s 35 parks and four recreation areas, 20 natural areas, seven lakes, four rivers and four state trails – all told, nearly 220,000 acres of land and water. Murphy succeeds Lewis Ledford, who retired after 37 years of service to the state parks system. Murphy assumes his duties July 22. 

Mike brings to us passion, experience and a terrific skill set,” DENR Secretary John Skvarla said.

“He is ideally suited to lead the division as we approach the North Carolina state parks system's centennial celebration in 2016. His diverse background as a science educator, a financial expert and businessman will play critical roles in supporting the multiple components of our state parks system.”



Murphy, 60, is a past managing director and president of Trident Financial Services, a Raleigh company acquired by Ohio-based KeyCorp in 1999. He most recently served as an astronomy and physics instructor at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh and is the immediate past president of the Friends of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, the private, nonprofit group that raises money for the museum and its educational programs.

Mike’s experience with the friends of the museum will help us greatly expand partnerships and increase our outreach with the many groups interested in the future of state parks,” Skvarla said. “He will also help us build upon recent successes such as the additions of Chimney Rock and Grandfather Mountain state parks.”

Murphy earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of Virginia, a Master of Business Administration from UNC Chapel Hill and two other master’s degrees, including one for astronomy from Swinburne University of Technology. He also served six years in the U.S. Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.

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