Women’s History Month: Josie Fernandez

Josie Fernandez
Photo courtesy of Ron Cockrell's Administrative History of Hot Springs National Park.

Born: September 1965 in Cuba

Bio: Josie Fernandez was superintendent of Hot Springs National Park from 2004 to 2018 — the first woman to lead the park. Fernandez served a total of 25 years in the National Park Service, with 14 being spent in Hot Springs. Under Fernandez’s leadership, Hot Springs National Park rehabilitated its historic bathhouses and founded community engagement programs such as the Artist in Residence Program.

In May 1999, the New York State Senate named her a 1999 Woman of Distinction. In 2007, the Arkansas Business and Professional Women presented her with the Women Mean Business state award in a non-traditional profession. In March 2008, the Arkansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution awarded her with the DAR Patriotism Medal during its 100th state convention. In 2016, the National Park Service Traffic Safety Coalition named her Superintendent of the Year.

Fernandez retired from the Air Force Reserve in 2016 at the rank of colonel, with her last duty assignment as a special assistant for public affairs to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. In February 2018, Fernandez retired as superintendent of Hot Springs National Park, and the position was passed to Laura Miller.

You can learn more about the life of Josie Fernandez at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is Editor-in-Chief of Arkansas Soul, the host of the Affirmative Action podcast and a Northwest Arkansas-based journalist. She has covered race, culture, politics, health, education and the arts in Arkansas for nearly 15 years.