04/13/2023 | , ,

Park Service Director Charles Sams Joins Keynote Panel at 2023 Conference

The Stone Living Lab is thrilled to announce Charles F. Sams III, Director of the National Park Service will join our keynote panel on Indigenous knowledge at our 2023 Conference, Nature-Based Coastal Resilience in Urban Settings.

Join us for conference proceedings on Wednesday April 26, 2023 to hear from Director Sams, as well as his fellow panelist Elizabeth Solomon of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag and Moderator Rev. Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space at the City of Boston.


Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III was ceremonially sworn in as the 19th director of the National Park Service on Dec. 16, 2021, by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. He is the first Indigenous person to serve in the role.

Sams is Cayuse and Walla Walla and is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Northeast Oregon, where he grew up. He also has blood ties to the Cocopah Tribe and Yankton Sioux of Fort Peck.

Sams most recently served as Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s appointee to the Pacific Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NW Council) where he held a position as a council member from March to December of 2021. Prior to joining the NW Council, he served as executive director for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

For 30 years, Sams has worked in tribal and state government, and in the non-profit natural resource and conservation management field, with an emphasis on the responsibility of strong stewardship for land preservation for this and future generations.

Sams is a veteran of the U.S. Navy where he served as an intelligence specialist. He holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Concordia University and a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law from the University of Oklahoma School of Law. He lives with his wife, Lori Lynn (Reinecke) Sams and their youngest daughter in Alexandria, VA.

Director Sams in the news
From dominance to stewardship: Chuck Sams’ Indigenous approach to the NPS | HIGH Country News | November 1, 2022
Meet the New Man Behind the National Park Service | New York Times | June 24, 2022

About Elizabeth Solomon

Elizabeth Solomon is an enrolled member of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag and volunteers to represent the Massachusett Tribe and indigenous interests on the Stone Living Lab Steering Committee. Ms. Solomon speaks frequently about local indigenous issues and has a long-standing commitment to human rights, diversity, inclusion, and community building that she brings to both her paid and volunteer work.

Ms. Solomon currently works as the Director of Administration in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and has over three decades of public health experience working in in both university and community-based settings. She also serves on multiple advisory and management boards.

Ms. Solomon recently completed a master’s degree in museum studies and she has a commitment to work with native communities and others that are currently underrepresented in museum exhibits and public history programs to assist them with bringing their voices and stories to the forefront.

About Rev. Mariama White-Hammond

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond was appointed as Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space in April 2021. In this role, she oversees policy and programs on energy, climate change, sustainability, historic preservation, and open space. Over the course of her time with the City, she has supported the amendment of the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) to set carbon targets for existing large buildings and convened a city-led green jobs program.

Rev. Mariama was born and raised in Boston and began her community engagement in high school, mostly pointedly with Project HIP-HOP (Highways Into the Past – History, Organizing and Power), a youth organization focused on teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement and engaging a new generation of young people in activism. After college, she became the Executive Director of Project HIP-HOP, where she served for 13 years. In 2017, she graduated with her Master of Divinity at the Boston University School of Theology and was ordained an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 2018, she founded New Roots AME Church in Dorchester where she currently pastors.

Rev. Mariama uses an intersectional lens in her ecological work, challenging folks to see the connections between immigration and climate change or the relationship between energy policy and economic justice. She has received numerous awards, including the Barr Fellowship, the Celtics Heroes Among Us, The Roxbury Founders Day Award and the Boston NAACP Image award. She was selected as one of the Grist 50 Fixers for 2019 and Sojourners 11 Women Shaping the Church.