New Director Appointed for Georgia’s State Parks & Historic Sites

Atlanta, GA

Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Mark Williams has announced the appointment of Jeff Cown to serve as the director of the State Parks & Historic Sites Division of DNR succeeding Becky Kelley who is retiring in October. The Board of Natural Resources will act to approve Mr. Cown’s appointment at its September meeting.

Mr. Cown currently serves the Environmental Protection Division of DNR where he has worked for 28 years, most recently as Chief of the Land Protection Branch after his appointment in 2013. In this role, Mr. Cown oversees nearly 200 employees across five programs such as hazardous and solid waste management. Since joining EPD, Mr. Cown has held multiple positions within the Land Protection Branch. He holds a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Georgia.

Based in Stockbridge, at Panola Mountain State Park, the Parks & Historic Sites Division manages 70 properties that preserve the state's environment and history. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Colonial Coast, these sites offer an exceptional variety of activities, such as hiking and biking, fishing and boating, picnicking, ranger programs, historic enactments and golf for nearly 10 million people each year. Currently, 63 state parks and state historic sites are open to the public, offering 374 cottages, 414 lodge rooms, 2,486+ campsites and seven golf courses.

“I am excited to announce Jeff Cown as the next director of the Parks & Historic Sites Division and am confident he will rise to the challenge of leading the best State Parks system in the country,” said Commissioner Mark Williams. “Under Director Becky Kelley’s leadership, our Parks system grew to contribute over 1 billion dollars in economic impact to Georgia’s economy while providing its citizens facilities in every region of the state to enjoy the outdoors. There is nobody I trust more to build off those accomplishments than Jeff Cown and I know he will lead the division with integrity and success.”

Mr. Cown lives in Monroe and has two sons, Kevin and Kyle. He is the proud grandfather to two granddaughters. Mr. Cown is a 2009 graduate of the Institute of Georgia Environmental Leadership.

“I am humbled and excited by the chance to lead the Parks Division,” Cown said. “As a frequent visitor of our Parks I know first hand what a dedicated and talented staff I now have the opportunity to serve. I am grateful to Commissioner Williams for trusting in me and look forward to continuing to make our Parks the greatest system in the country.”

For more information on the State Parks & Historic Sites Division, go to