College of HHD

Celebrating Our National Parks: RTM with the Distinguished Visiting Speakers Program

September 27, 2016

Thanks to such enthusiastic responses to this event, as of Friday, 09/30 we have changed the event location and the RSVP deadline has been extended. Changes are reflected below:

"The National Parks: America's Best Idea" is CSUN's event to celebrate the National Park Services Centennial. This town-hall style event will feature several CSUN alumni, each of whom holds a prominent position in the National Parks system.  "There is a huge need in the national parks for diversity, and CSUN is well positioned to encourage students to consider careers in the national parks," said Mechelle Best, Chair of the Department of Recreation & Tourism Management. "The national parks are for the public good; this land has been protected in the interest of the country and we need to get more people outside."

The event is supported by the CSUN Distinguished Visiting Speakers Program and the Center for Recreation & Tourism. The reception and town-hall will take place Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 6:30 P.M. in the Johnson Auditorium in Jacaranda Hall. Seating is limited-- so RSVP to or call 818-677-3202 by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 3.

 Meet Our Guest Speakers:

cliff spencerCliff Spencer (RTM ’84)

Superintendent, Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Spencer is Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park and Yucca House National Monument in Colorado.  He has served in that capacity since October 2010.  Cliff also serves as general superintendent of Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. 

Cliff previously served as Superintendent of Petrified Forest National Park from 2008-2010, and White Sands National Monument from 2003-2008.  He has been with the National Park Service for more than 30 years and worked in nine parks. In his career, he has served as a law enforcement ranger, wildland firefighter, medic and high angle rescuer. He is a graduate of California State University, Northridge with a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Administration.  He has an Associate’s Degree in Psychology from Pierce College.

Mike TheuneMike Theune (RTM '11)

Fire Information Officer, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Mike Theune started his career as an intern in the National Park Service in 2007 with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area; later becoming a full-time park ranger at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and then Cape Hatteras National Seashore. From there, he returned to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, this time as a park ranger.

In 2011, Mike completed his master’s degree in the Recreation and Tourism Management Department while continuing to work full-time. After getting his degree, he taught part-time with the Recreation and Tourism Management Department until 2013 when he left California to become a Public Affairs Officer with Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota. Returning a couple years later to the National Park Service and California, Mike is currently the year-round Fire Information Officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

bethany szczepanskiBethany Szczepanski (RTM '16)

Education Technician, Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Bethany Szczepanski chose to pursue a Master’s degree in Recreation and Tourism Management from CSUN to help her achieve her dream of becoming a National Park Service park ranger. She says she always had a love of spending time outdoors and grew up visiting national parks. 

“Since graduation,” she says, “I have had the pleasure of working with Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana. My job as an Education Technician has provided an incredible and rewarding experience where I have the opportunity to share a small part of this country’s history and culture with visitors.” 

Bethany grew up in a small town in Illinois and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Southern Illinois University.  She worked in several industries including theater, film, and the food industry before returning to CSUN for her master’s degree.

razsa cruzRazsa Cruz (Geography '13)

Park Ranger, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Razsa Cruz is a park ranger with a special interest in various indigenous cultures throughout the world. Her dedication to places like the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center has brought people together in a culturally sensitive and inspiring way.

Drawing upon her own life experiences, Razsa uses her skills as a communicator and educator to share with groups from all over the world a love for national parks and special places.

Her dedication to places like the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center brings people together.






Jean O'Sullivan