Mamie Parker, PhD.

Former Head of Fisheries

US. Fish and Wildlife Service

Featured on the NPR’s Morning Edition radio show, Mamie A. Parker is a leader in Nominating and Governance in various nonprofit organizations and serves on the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy (Virginia Chapter), the National Wildlife Federation, Center for Large Landscape Conservation Board, Duke University NSOE, Northland College, Student Conservation Association, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Brown Advisory Sustainable Investment, Marstel-Day Consulting Company, the Potomac and the Chesapeake Conservancy.  As an Aspen Institute Fellow, she was awarded the Council of World Women Leaders’ exchange fellowship to work in the Kingdom of Lesotho and in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.   She received great accolades in China while speaking at the World Fisheries Congress on the impacts of climate change and development in coastal cities and communities of color.


Her birth mother, a maid and a sharecropper motivated her to care about Mother Nature.  The legendary singer/songwriter Marvin Gaye’s hit song about pollution and radiation, “Mercy, Mercy Me.” inspired her to work for almost 30 years as a fish and wildlife biologist for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in Genoa; La Crosse; Green Bay, Madison, and Lake Mills, Wisconsin; Columbia, Missouri; New London and Minneapolis, Minnesota; Atlanta, Georgia; Amherst, MA; and Washington, D.C. 

Her mother raised her and ten siblings in a four-room house, and she was among the first to integrate her elementary school.  Many members in that small town helped her. They inspired her to give back to her community by coordinating workshops on High Self Esteem- High eSTEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) fun days and “Wild STEM” workshops in conjunction with the Black Women’s Agenda and other organizations in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Baltimore, Detroit, and Little Rock. The Kellogg Foundation awarded the Green School Alliance a grant that allowed her to present the Ma Parker Journey.  This series of public speaking engagements allowed her to share her life story as a pioneer in conservation in the Baltimore Public Schools and throughout the country.

Dr. Parker is a member of The Links, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., The Girl Friends, and the Rotary Club of Dunn Loring-Merrifield.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies recently awarded her the prestigious John L. Morris Award, named for the owner of Bass Pro Shops.  The President of the United States presented Parker with the Presidential Rank Award, the highest award given to government employees.  She facilitated at the White House Conference on the Environment.  Parker made history when appointed the first African American FWS Regional Director and the first African American Senior Executive Service member in the FWS’s 135-year history.  Teri McAuliffe, the former Governor of Virginia appointed her to the Board of Directors of the Game and Inland Fisheries Commission and she was recently selected as the first African American Chairwoman.  The Governor of Arkansas enshrined her in the Arkansas Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Parker received the American Fisheries Society’s highest honor named after its first woman president for her outstanding work in promoting clean drinking water in our nation’s streams and the first African American woman to serve as Head of Fisheries in this nation. She attended the University of Arkansas, Tennessee Tech University, and the University of Wisconsin.  In March 2018, American University presented Parker with the renowned William P. Reilly Leadership Award for her outstanding leadership and community service.  This work included her serving as the Regional Director of the 13 Northeastern states. She was designated the authorized official to lead the negotiations with General Electric Corporation to clean up rivers, including the Hudson River.

Parker rose to the rank of Special Assistant to the Director and Assistant Director in the FWS Headquarters, the first African American to hold this title.  An avid angler, she has outstanding NEPA experience, Clean Water Act wetland protection, and restoration.  This extensive amount of experience led her to receive the Annual Ira Gabrielson Award, an award to given by FWS leaders to the most outstanding leader in the agency.  As Head of Fisheries, Parker played a significant role in protecting our nation’s waters from the pollutants and invasive species, such as listing the Snakehead fish and Asian Carp as an injurious wildlife species. She led the FWS staff, along with partners in developing the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.  Parker has mentored hundreds of women and people of color in her profession and is a co-author in the American Fisheries Society’s most recently released book entitled “The Future of Fisheries.”


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