Clemson University Institute for Parks

Ron Walker

"Our National Parks: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" 

Ronald H. Walker, Former Director of the National Parks ServiceRon Walker has a long, distinguished career in business, government and the not-for-profit world.

Until his retirement in 2001, Mr. Walker was a Senior Partner with Korn/Ferry International, the World's largest Executive Search Firm, for over twenty years. He also has a wide ranging background in business, government service, and international consulting and leisure/sport/recreational management. Mr. Walker's client base included the Fortune 100.

Mr. Walker's extensive and distinguished record of government service includes Special Assistant to the President of the United States from 1969 to 1972 where he was the founder and first director of the White House Advance Office. He was responsible for planning and coordinating all Presidential travel both domestic and international. Those visits included all 50 states and 25 countries. He personally directed the preparations for the President's historic trips to the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

President Nixon appointed him the eighth Director of the National Park Service in December, 1972 where he served until 1975. He was charged with the preservation and care of 300 National Park System areas encompassing 30 million acres of land. He administered a budget of $350 million and managed 15,000 employees who served the 230 million people that visit America's parklands annually. Mr. Walker was caretaker of America's treasures, both God-given and man-made.

Mr. Walker has served as a consultant to the White House Personnel Office. He has also served as a senior advisor to four Presidents and on Special Diplomatic assignments abroad. In addition, he has served as a senior advisor to nine Republican Conventions, highlighted by his Chairmanship and position of CEO of the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. At the request of President Ronald Reagan, he also chaired the 50th Presidential Inauguration.

Mr. Walker has served on numerous boards, both public and private, including being a public sector member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Kennedy Center, Vice Chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, past chairman of the Freedom's Foundation at Valley Forge, the National Park Foundation, Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Ford's Theatre, and Vice Chairman of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.

Ron Walker was born in Texas in 1937 and raised in India, Iraq, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, while his father was with the U.S. Government and the Ford Foundation.

Mr. Walker attended an American Missionary High School in South India. He graduated in 1956 and entered the University of Arizona where he studied government and American History. He joined a fraternity, was elected to Junior Class President, founded the International Club, was President of the Senior Men's Honorary and named to Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges, and serves as a member of the University of Arizona Presidential Leadership Foundation.

Upon graduation, he received a commission in the United States Army and served at Fort Knox, Fort Bragg and the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) from 1961-64, rising to the rank of Captain.

Anne Collins and Ron Walker were married in 1959. They have three daughters, Lisa Walker Hart, Marja Walker and Lynne Walker McNees. They have two grandsons, Hugh Walker Hart and John Henry Hart (Jake).

After almost forty years in the Washington, DC area, the Walkers divide their time between Tucson, Arizona and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Mr. Walker's other interests include fly-fishing, hiking, golf, cooking, photography reading, and any National Park.