RALEIGH – The state Division of Parks and Recreation will be under new leadership, the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources announced Wednesday.
Dwayne Patterson was named director of the organization, which manages more than 234,000 acres of landscape within the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas.
Patterson is the first African-American to lead the state parks division, which welcomes 19 million visitors annually, according to the release. He is currently the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources chief financial officer.
“Our state parks system is a treasure, and I look forward to working with the park system staff, local governments, and parks supporters to protect, expand and improve our parks, trails, and open spaces,” Patterson said in a statement. “I am humbled by the opportunity afforded me by Governor Cooper and Secretary Hamilton.”
The Division of Parks and Recreation also administers the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, including its local grants program, a state trails program, North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers and more.
“Dwayne Patterson understands the important role that parks and trails play in improving health and quality of life, and will work to expand access to parks throughout North Carolina, especially among children,” Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, said in a statement. “His extensive leadership experience, along with his operational and financial background, make him a great fit to lead the department’s largest division.”
Before taking the position with the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in May 2017, Patterson lead as executive director for CREST, a regional nonprofit agency that serves intellectually and developmentally disabled adults. He has also served as chief deputy secretary for the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, chief financial officer for the Warren and Durham county public school systems, and director of operations for the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
From Kinston, Patterson graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from North Carolina State University. He lives in Garner with his wife Veronica. They have two adult children.