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NPS Leadership spotlight: Dave Vago, project manager for historic preservation at GCNP

I grew up in Philadelphia, PA, with lots of vacations spent in New England and southwest Michigan. Being shaped by all three places made me want to work with historic things. I got my undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Maryland and a Master’s in industrial Archaeology from Michigan Tech. I’ve lived in 20 places in 11 states, including both coasts, north, south and in-between, and have spent most of my career working with museums and historic sites. I’ve been a frontline interpreter and program supervisor, an exhibit designer, a preservation project manager, a Main Street manager and a nonprofit director. My subject expertise is in historic industrial sites and resources. Before coming to GRCA, I held a few seasonal NPS positions over the years, including at Blue Ridge Parkway, Fort Point and the Historic American Engineering Record, but this is my first career position.

How long have you worked at GRCA? Where are you based out of?

I started at GRCA in December 2021. I’m based at park headquarters, but travel to other locations periodically depending on what’s happening with my projects. Right now, I’m managing two projects on the North Rim, one at Desert View, one in the Inner Canyon, and one at the South Rim, and assisting with a few other things here and there.

What have you enjoyed the most about working and living at GRCA so far?

Being in a small community in a beautiful place with lots of opportunities to be outdoors is great, as is the proximity to the kinds of things I like to work with - the historic Powerhouse, the railroad and so on. However, I’ve worked in a lot of places, some with better work cultures than others, and although there is always room for improvement, I do believe we have a management team here that is committed to making this a better, healthier, more functional place to work, and that’s invaluable.

This week, are you team winter or team spring?

I love winter, really, and I know that we need the melt, but this has been a bit much. I’m ready for cookout season to get going.

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