Angela Crenshaw, a 15-year veteran of the Maryland Park Service, has been appointed the acting superintendent of the agency, becoming the first Black person to hold the post.

Crenshaw takes the helm of an agency that has been shaken by a former park manager going on trial for rape, and a Baltimore Banner investigation that revealed longstanding concerns about sexual harassment and bullying in the park system. In the aftermath, two senior officials and an assistant park manager were removed.

In an email to Park Service employees Friday, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz wrote, “We recognize that this past year has been an incredibly difficult and painful time for many of you. While we have no control over what happened in the past ... we are committed to shaping the future together.”

Crenshaw started with DNR’s boating services division in 2008. Five years later, she became a park ranger and began working at Elk Neck State Park in North East, and then Gunpowder Falls State Park in Middle River.

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From 2017-2020, she was an assistant manager at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park in Church Creek, on the Eastern Shore. Most recently Crenshaw was park manager of Rocks, Susquehanna, and Palmer State Parks.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and environmental studies from Washington College and a master’s in environmental policy from the University of Delaware.

Crenshaw assumes the role previously held by Nita Settina, who was terminated last November. Settina, who was appointed by former Gov. Martin O’Malley, had led the park service since 2008.

Settina faced criticism that she had failed to act on numerous complaints about Michael Browning, the longtime manager of Gunpowder Falls, which covers 18,000 acres and is the state’s largest park. Browning was arrested by Baltimore County police last fall and charged with raping two former employees. Police cited a recorded phone call in which Browning appeared to admit to one of the ex-employee’s accusations.

However, a Baltimore County jury this month acquitted Browning on all but one charge, fourth-degree sex offense, stemming from his relations with the second female accuser. Although the charge is a misdemeanor, Browning must register as a sex offender

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After Browning’s arrest, The Banner investigated allegations of harassment and a toxic work environment at Gunpowder during Browning’s tenure. Interviews with 15 former and current Gunpowder employees painted a portrait of Browning as a manipulative boss who rewarded favored employees with free meals, hunting trips and prime assignments, while assigning those who questioned him to unpleasant tasks or difficult schedules.

The Banner reviewed eight written complaints that Gunpowder employees had sent higher-ups in the state park service in 2015 detailing a culture of bullying, harassment and retaliation at the park. The employees did not see any changes after they filed the complaints, and many believed that they were retaliated against for complaining.

In one instance, a former ranger at the Patapsco Valley State Park in Howard County told The Banner that after she reported being groped by a supervisor, Settina told her that unfortunately sexual harassment was a fact of life for women in the workplace.

Following The Banner’s investigation, state officials terminated Browning’s assistant manager, Dean Hughes, who had been accused of harassing female workers and intimidating staffers during his time at Gunpowder. DNR officials later fired the regional supervisor who oversaw Browning, as well as Settina, the superintendent of the entire state park system.

The DNR has seen further shake-ups under the administration of Gov. Wes Moore, who took office in January.

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Fifteen other staff members within the department will take on new leadership roles, officials said Friday.

“These sixteen dedicated leaders and park service colleagues embody and will help instill a new culture,” the DNR secretary wrote in his email. “They care deeply about our parks, the people who work diligently to make them wonderful places to visit, and our valued park guests.”

Julie Scharper contributed to this report.

callan.tansillsuddath@thebaltimorebanner.com

Callan Tansill-Suddath covered the Maryland General Assembly for The Baltimore Banner. She previously covered the beat for WYPR 88.1, and Capital News Service, and reported on Montgomery and Prince George's Counties for WAMU/DCist. A native of Silver Spring, Callan holds a Master of Journalism degree from the University of Maryland.

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