Looking Forward with Hannah Ormshaw, Assistant San Mateo County Parks Director

Women’s History Month is for celebrating the contributions women have made throughout history and for recognizing the achievements of women in a variety of fields. This month on our social media channels, we profiled four women whose steadfast leadership helped preserve and create some of our county park treasures.

We also want to look forward and celebrate female leaders working today to advance their fields and who are making significant contributions to society. Hannah Ormshaw is one of these leaders for the San Mateo County Parks Department. In November, Hannah was named Assistant Director, having previously served as the Natural Resource Manager since 2019. Hannah has an academic and professional background as a geographer and ecologist. In light of her new leadership role, we asked Hannah a few questions to get to know her and what she envisions for her work with the Department.

Hannah Ormshaw portrait

Who is one woman from history (in the parks or environmental field) who inspires you and why?
While there are many who have, the first person who comes to my mind as an early inspiration for me is Rachel Carson. The work she did as a biologist and conservationist to bring environmental concerns to the forefront of public knowledge inspired the advancement of some important changes in environmental policies and practices that are still relevant today. Women like Rachel Carson fostered my desire to pursue a career in the environmental field, and for the work I do to contribute to the betterment and enjoyment of the natural world.

What are some of your goals for your first year in your new role?
In my time working with the San Mateo County Parks Department to date, much of my focus and work has been related to natural resource management. In the transition to Assistant Director, I am particularly excited to expand my involvement in long-term planning efforts and initiatives for the department, with capital improvement projects, and supporting the department as a whole. I’m glad to be able to bring my natural resource management perspective and familiarity to this role.

What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?
As cliché as it sounds coming from someone who works for the Parks Department, most weekends you can find me out at a park taking a hike, going for a run, camping, or just finding a scenic place to watch the sunset or sunrise. Early mornings out in the forest is one of my favorite things – listening to the birds waking up and experiencing the soft light in the trees. I also love playing word games, trying new restaurants, taking my dog Ruby to the beach, and watching sci-fi or superhero movies with my partner Keith.

Are there life lessons that your work has taught you?

Some life lessons that I have learned from my career so far have been to pursue opportunities that present themselves, take risks, and be willing to adapt to change. I had humble beginnings in my early days working with the San Mateo County Parks Department, and I am incredibly grateful for all of the mentorship and support I received from my predecessors and colleagues to help me get to where I am today with the Department.

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