Arizona State Parks Board

Executive Director

Sue Black

Sue BlackSue Black is the first Arizona State Parks Board Executive Director to be sworn in as an appointed public officer for the State of Arizona.

This official ceremony was held on February 20, 2015 at the Secretary of State headquarters.

Black is Arizona’s eighth Arizona State Parks Board Executive Director since the State Parks Board was created in 1957 by Governor Earnest McFarland.

Sue Black began as the Executive Director of the Arizona’s State Parks department on February 11, 2015. Black first worked for Arizona State Parks as the Operations Chief in the late 1990’s. Black will focus on the agency’s mission which she helped craft while serving in Arizona. “Arizona State Parks manages and conserves Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.” Specifically that includes overseeing the 32 State Parks, the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, managing two State Recreational Trails Programs, and the State Historic Preservation Office.   

Black’s career spans 33 years in the field of parks and recreation. She left Arizona to become the director of Wisconsin State Parks for six years, where she led efforts to open three new State Parks and build the Hank Aaron State Trail. She also was responsible for the largest trail acquisition in Wisconsin State history, The Ice Age National Scenic Trail. As the director, Black also consulted with international delegations from some of China’s park systems who were researching how to improve their national parks. Black was also the director of the Milwaukee County Parks Department for eight years recreational system encompasses 154 parks and 15,000 acres of land.  

Black grew up in Wisconsin and received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin Madison in Recreation Resources Management and Natural Resources. She received her Masters of Arts in Education from the University of Phoenix in Arizona. Governor Douglas A. Ducey described her as a “passionate public servant” in announcing her appointment, and “well-regarded as a visionary in her field for her entrepreneurial, creative and collaborative spirit.” Black’s other recreational park system experiences include serving as the Parks Director for the City of Portage and Green Lake and the Dane County Parks Operations Chief. 

Black spent four years for the Arizona’s State Parks department and won an “Award of Excellence” from the agency while leading the preservation of the world-renowned Kartchner Caverns State Park. Black is also recognized nationally for her efforts to develop financial and in-kind partnerships for the agencies that she has led.

Black has won many awards in the field of parks and recreation from state and national organizations. Some of the prestigious awards included the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in the Field of Park and Recreation Management for Milwaukee County Parks from the American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration and Park Professional of the Year from the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association. Ms. Black is a member of the following professional organizations: The National Recreation and Park Association (2014-15 Judge - Board of the National Gold Medal Awards), the Wisconsin and Arizona Parks and Recreation Associations, National Association of State Park Directors and is an Executive Board member of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.

Email: [email protected]

Board Chair

Dale Larsen

As an Arizona resident since 1984, Dale Larsen is a devoted practitioner, teacher, participant, researcher and supporter of our fabulous Arizona parks and trails. He spent 27 years as the Assistant Director and Director for the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department. Retiring in 2010, he became a full-time faculty member and administrative Director of Community Relations for the Arizona State University College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

He currently serves as the President of the Camp Colley Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money to send disadvantaged children to an outdoor adventure camp in Blue Ridge Arizona. He is also a member of the City Parks Alliance, the National Park and Recreation Association, the Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration, and the Trust for Public Lands.


Most important to him, they raised three children and now nine grandchildren with a major emphasis on the unlimited recreational and educational values of our Arizona parks and trails.

Term Expires 01/21/2019

Board Vice-Chair

John Sefton, Peoria

John R. Sefton, Jr., CPRP joined the City of Peoria in August 2012 as the Community Services Director.   He is responsible for leading the team’s functional divisions of Parks, Recreation, Libraries, Public Arts and the Peoria Sports Complex.  

John diligently strives to deliver the quality of life for Peoria that the citizens and City Council aspire for. Prior to joining Peoria, John served the cities of Tucson, Prescott Valley, Chandler, Casa Grande and Henderson, Nevada in various parks and recreation positions from Lifeguard to Director.  Wedging in seven years of the ‘housing boom’ with developer Pulte Homes and the Communities of Del Webb, John helped build the lifestyle communities of Anthem, AZ and Anthem at Merrill Ranch in Florence, AZ.

John received his Bachelor’s in Business Management from ASU, a certificate in Public Policy from the U of A, and in 2013 completed his Master’s Degree in Community and Land Use Planning at NAU. Notable career accomplishments include supporting and leading Tucson and Peoria departments through their inaugural CAPRA Accreditation processes, Parks and Recreation Master Planning, recreation amenity design and construction leadership and organizational development initiatives.

Board Member

Lisa A. Atkins, State Land Commissioner, Phoenix

Lisa Atkins was appointed by Governor Douglas A. Ducey to serve as Commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department on June 15, 2015. Atkins is the 21st Commissioner in the 100-year history of the State Land Department, and is responsible for managing and administering 9.2 million acres of State Land that is held in a Trust for 13 beneficiaries, the largest of which is Arizona’s K-12 education.

As an Arizona native, Atkins combines a well-rounded understanding of the State with more than 40 years of experience in the federal and state legislative and policy arenas. Ms. Atkins served for more than 23 years as Chief of Staff to Congressman Bob Stump (R-AZ) in both Washington, D.C. and Arizona, 18 months as the Executive Director of the County Supervisors Association of Arizona (CSA), representing more than 50 elected Arizona County Supervisors on policy and budget matters, and 11 years as the Vice President for Public Policy for Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL), a group of the Region’s top business and industry leaders focused on the State’s economic growth and vitality.

Atkins is well respected in the Arizona community for her involvement in a variety of organizations. Among her current community activities, Ms. Atkins represents Maricopa County as an elected member of the Board of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD), which is responsible for operating, maintaining and managing the Central Arizona Project. She also serves as an Advisory Member of the statewide Governor’s Military Affairs Commission, which is the permanent body to monitor and make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on executive, legislative and federal actions necessary to sustain and grow Arizona’s network of military installations, training and testing ranges and associated airspace.

She and her husband John reside in Phoenix; they have two grown children and three very handsome grandsons. Atkins is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

Term: 2015-present, Statutory Board Member

Board Member

Debbie Johnson, Phoenix

Debbie has spent over two decades working in the tourism industry in Arizona. She was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey as Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism in August 2015 to oversee the state’s tourism marketing strategy.  Prior to that she served as President & CEO of the Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association and Valley Hotel & Resort Association.  In addition, Debbie plays an integral role in shaping Arizona’s tourism industry and serving as the voice of its 200,000+ employees.
She serves on numerous local, state and national boards and committees dedicated to the industry and has been honored as Arizona’s Tourism Champion of the Year, the Phoenix Visitor Industry Champion and was inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame in 2011. She was named among the Valley’s Most Admired CEOs by the Phoenix Business Journal in 2012 and the Top Business Leaders of 2013-2016 by AZ Business Magazine. 

Debbie was born and raised in Wyoming, but she is a 25+ year Arizona resident and an Arizona State Sun Devil, where she received her degree in Marketing. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, reading, football, quality time with her three children and, of course, traveling.

Board Member

Orme Lewis, Jr.

Orme Lewis, Jr. is currently a semi-retired real estate advisor/broker and is the sole proprietor of Select Investements. LLC.

Earlier, Lewis worked as: U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee and Receiver for U.S. Bank, and was the Senior Advisor at World Resources Company. He was previously the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Land Management for the U.S. Department of Interior and Chaired the Advisory Committee on Mining and Mineral Resources for the Emergency Minerals Administration. In 1966-68, he served as the Majority Leader and Chair of the Finance Committee for the Arizona State Senate.

Lewis holds a BS in Economics from the Univeristy of Arizona (1958).

He also served as the past Chair on the Boards for the Arizona Historical Foundation and Phoenix Childrens Hospital.

Term Expires 01/20/2020

Board Member

Shawn Orme

Shawn Orme is currently the Business Manager for Third Generation (1988 - Present).

Earlier, Orme worked as: Director of College Guidance for the Orme School (2004-2011), was the Co-Founder, Educator and President, Board of Directors of the Ash Creek School (1990-2003) and was a Resource Specialist for Amphitheater Public Schools (1977-1981).

Orme holds a BSE and BA in Elementary Education/Special Education from ASU (1976).

She also serves as the Governing Board Chair of the Verde Valley Medical Center (2014-Present) and as the Governing Board Secretary of Northern Arizona Healthcare. She had previously served on the Advisory Board of the Yavapai County Community Foundation (2003-2006).

Term Expires 01/15/2021

Board Member

Terri Palmberg

As a retired parks and recreation professional, Terri Palmberg brings experience and skills as a team player. She has a Master’s Degree from Arizona State University in Parks and Recreation Administration. She retired Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation with the City of Mesa after serving in various capacities for over 30 years. She served as Member Arizona Parks and Recreation Foundation and as an active participation in the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association with various leadership positions held including president. She served multiple terms as Roosevelt Action Association neighborhood president and National Parks and Recreation Association Young Professional Southwest Region. She was selected by peers and honored as a Legend in Arizona Parks and Recreation. She was an adjunct Professor for Arizona State University teaching various classes for over 15 years both at Tempe and Downtown Campus.
Her primary home is in downtown Phoenix and her second home was lost in the Yarnell Hill fire. She worked hard to rebuild our rock home and it is finally finished. During this time, she watched the development of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Memorial State Trail. She is active in the Yarnell community and had the pleasure of attending the dedication and hearing your remarks. Having witnessed this development and the positive outcome has rekindled her interest in being involved, and hopefully adding value by serving at the state level.

Term Expires 01/16/2023

Looking for 2015 meeting information? Please check our archive.

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23751 N. 23rd Ave. #190
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Mission Statement
"Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our Parks and through our Partners."