Upon hearing the news, one of her former professors said she was pleased but not at all surprised. “I can’t say it’s surprising … because Jenny was an incredible student,” Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen-Earp said.
“Her senior thesis was about the tension between HIPAA laws and privacy and the need for national parks to report when there was an accident in the park, because of public safety. So, this is an ultimate fulfillment for someone whose heart was always with the national parks.”
Anzelmo-Sarles, whose mother had a long career with the NPS, spent much of her childhood in Wyoming’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Years later, her senior thesis gave a peek at what that childhood was like and a hint at how she envisioned her future.
“Most kids grow up with a dog in their back yard or a cat in their living room,” she wrote in her introduction. “I grew up looking out my living room window at bison, moose, elk, and bears in my yard. Instead of listening to lullabies to fall asleep, I fell asleep to the sound of bugling of elk in the fall, coyotes chattering in the spring, and wolves howling at the winter moon.
“While waiting for the bus to pick me up and take me to school, I didn’t see stop signs or other houses, but the most dramatic mountains in the United States. These unique experiences engendered in me a great love and passion for nature’s wild places.”
Between semesters at Lynchburg, Anzelmo-Sarles worked at Grand Teton. After graduation, she returned to the park to manage its strategic communications and social media. In 2014, she moved to NPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she worked for five years, including three as public affairs chief.
In 2019, she left the parks service to become a vice president at Rubenstein, a New York City-based public relations firm. Her experience, during and after college, spans public and private sectors and also includes work with NBC News and an internship on Capitol Hill.
Her first day back with the NPS was Sept. 14.
“From protecting our nation’s most hallowed grounds and stunning landscapes to preserving places associated with our most defining historical moments, the National Park Service has a special place in American life,” Anzelmo-Sarles said in a press release about her appointment.
“I’m incredibly honored to return to the NPS and look forward to helping connect all Americans with their national parks.”
Her employer is glad she’s back as well. “I’m thrilled to welcome Jenny back to the National Park Service,” NPS Deputy Director of Operations Shawn Benge said in the press release. “She brings strong skills that will be invaluable to the NPS team, reporters, and the American people.
“Jenny’s experience, intellectual curiosity and commitment to public service make her ideal for this influential and important role.”