When Kathy Rawls becomes the new director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Saturday, she will be the first woman to head the state agency.
Rawls has been with the Division for more than 25 years, the past seven as the Fisheries Management section chief, according to the division.
“There are already a number of women in pivotal roles at the division, and I do feel a responsibility to represent them and other female colleagues, but I also know that gender is not part of the job description,” Rawls said in a statement Wednesday. “The best way for me to represent women in the science field is to be a darned good director of the Division of Marine Fisheries and being a good director will involve doing the best I can for the division, the marine fisheries resource, and the people of North Carolina.”
Rawls began her career at the Division of Marine Fisheries in 1990 as a river herring technician, a position she held for three years before leaving to work on her family’s farm. She returned to the division in 1999 as a technician on a striped bass project, and worked her way up to biologist supervisor, a position she held for eight years until May 2011, when she was promoted to manager of the division’s Northern District, based in Elizabeth City. She became Fisheries Management Section chief in April 2014.
Rawls, 53, was born and raised in Windsor and graduated from Lawrence Academy in Merry Hill. She earned a bachelor’s in marine biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 1989.