August 24, 2016:New Smoky Mountain Park Chief

He’s the new superintendent of America’s most-visited national park, and 46-year-old Cassius Cash will be the featured speaker at Leadership Asheville Forum’s kick-off luncheon event on Wednesday, August 24th.  Coincidentally, the National Park Service will celebrate its centennial the following day – on August 25th.

Cash took over as superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in February, but he is a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service and the Park Service. He came to the Smokies after five years as superintendent of the Boston National Historical Park and Boston African-American National Historic Site.

Today, he oversees a National Park which spans a half-million wilderness acres on the North Carolina-Tennessee border and is visited by more than 10 million people each year. It’s a big challenge, but he calls it his dream job.

Cassius Cash grew up in Memphis, Tennessee.  His father was a police officer and his mother a cosmetologist. He had planned to become a doctor and was studying pre-med at the University of Arkansas/Pine Bluff when the U.S. Forest Service came to campus to interview for wildlife biology internships.  He was offered an internship in Washington state to study spotted owls in old-growth forests — and he accepted. After his internship, he returned to school and graduated with a pre-med degree.  He then went to Oregon State University to study wildlife management. “The outdoors got to me,” he says.  In 1991, he went to work with the U.S. Forest Service as a wildlife biologist. Cash and his wife, Vonda, live in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with their younger daughter.  The older daughter is in college in Colorado.