National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation Names Tom Irvine as Executive Director

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation (NPLSF) announced today that Tom Irvine, the current board chairman, will step down from his volunteer role to assume the function of the organization’s first full-time executive director. Founded in 2006, the nonprofit strives to inspire people to create meaningful connections with the five national parks around Lake Superior by providing funding for capital projects, programming, educational initiatives, and outreach efforts.


“I’m very pleased to welcome Tom in this position at such an important time for our parks,” said Denice Swanke, superintendent for Isle Royale National Park. “His deep knowledge of the parks combined with his experience engaging diverse stakeholders and building consensus gives Tom the skills and insights needed to help the parks achieve both our immediate and longer-term goals.”


Irvine has spent his career in leadership positions in the private sector, primarily in industrial distribution, textiles and manufacturing. Since 2015, he has led a consulting company specializing in conservation, historic preservation, and sustainability.


During his tenure as NPLSF board chairman, Irvine oversaw multiple initiatives to expand the support of the five national park partners by increasing visibility and programming, recruiting new board members, and broadening the organization’s funding channels.


“When I joined the board of NPLSF in 2019, I knew my involvement wasn’t going to be passive,” Irvine said. “Our whole board of directors has deep connections to the lake and these national parks, and I am no exception. My family has a 150-year-old connection to Lake Superior, from lighthouse keepers to postmasters to artists and writers. This career path was somewhat preordained for me.”


NPLSF board member Fawn Bernhardt-Norvell, development director for the Center for Victims of Torture, will fill the role of board chair. Bernhardt-Norvell has more than 26 years of nonprofit management and resource development experience and has been active on the NPLSF board since November 2020.


“Tom’s vision, expertise, and determination will help move us ahead and expand our involvement in several critical initiatives,” said Bernhardt-Norvell. “Whether we are supporting the Isle Royale wolf relocation program or collaborating with National Geographic to build awareness about the parks, NPLSF is now better positioned to help nurture and maintain these parks while honoring ancestral Anishinaabe ties to the land so all may enjoy, understand and connect with these public lands today and for generations to come.”


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About the NPLSF

The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation (NPLSF) exists to provide financial support for projects and programs that preserve the natural resources and cultural heritage of the five Lake Superior national parks: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Funded through grants and private donations, NPLSF projects and programs ensure that these great parks and historic sites are maintained for the enjoyment of all current and future visitors.