Penelope Del Bene Begins 120-Day Assignment As Acting Superintendent


On Wednesday, Sept. 6, Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument welcomed Penelope Del Bene, as she officially began her 120-day assignment as acting superintendent of the two St. John parks. Scott Simmons returns to his role as the park’s deputy superintendent.

Del Bene has served as the superintendent of Biscayne National Park, located in South Florida, since 2019. Del Bene has overseen critical Hurricane Irma infrastructure recovery projects, improved visitor experience at popular camping and day-use locations, increased visitor access to the park through education-based experiences and preserved coral reefs through a multi-faceted programmatic approach. As superintendent, she also works closely with Indigenous communities by building and maintaining relationships with local Tribes in South Florida.

Del Bene has extensive experience working collaboratively with communities, stakeholders, partners, friends groups and the public to balance preservation of cultural and natural resources with operational needs, such as visitor use and access and infrastructure development.

Prior to serving as superintendent of Biscayne National Park, Del Bene was chief of cultural resources and Tribal liaison at Everglades, Dry Tortugas and Biscayne national parks. Del Bene’s eighteen years of federal experience includes multiple archeologist positions, including with Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska, the U.S. Forest Service in California and at one of the busiest Bureau of Land Management energy offices in Wyoming.

Del Bene holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in anthropology from California State University, Northridge.