Sept. 21, 2008 — Vanessa Taliaferro-Robinson arrived as chief of administration at V. I. National Park just over two weeks ago, but already she's made an impact.
"She has lots of talent and new ideas. She will help our team become stronger," park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said.
The chief of administration and her staff of four deal with such nuts and bolts park activities as the budget, procurement, hiring, payroll, and planning. She's a behind-the-scenes person whose work is just as important as the front-line folks such as rangers and researchers.
"Her strength is in customer service. She says, what's your problem, and okay, here's what we need to do," Hardgrove said.
She started her job near the end of the fiscal year, which comes Sept. 30. This means she's glued to her desk until the books are closed, leaving no time for exploring St. John's beaches and hills.
Taliaferro-Robinson joined the National Park Service in 1998 after spending her early career at the U.S. Department of Defense, a job that took her to such far-flung places as Germany.
She went to the Department of Defense right after graduation from West Virginia State College with a bachelor's degree is in business administration with an emphasis on accounting.
Before moving to St. John, she worked at Martin Luther King National Historic Site. That job followed one at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. Both are in Atlanta. She's also been detailed — that means on loan in park-speak — to other sites including Yellowstone National Park and this summer, to the St. John park.
She's enjoyed the recent rainy weather, but did find that fierce outbreak of mosquitoes in late August a bit problematic. However, she quickly learned to wear long sleeves and arm herself with mosquito repellent.
Originally from the Bronx, New York, Taliaferro-Robinson is a big fan of national parks. "To be out in nature is beautiful," she said.
And she said it's important to preserve them for future generations.
She also likes being part of the park family.
"You get to know people over time and you always have people to help you," she said.
The mother of two, Antonio and Scott Robinson, Taliaferro-Robinson expects her children to visit.
"They'll come on vacation," she said.
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