Darwina L. Neal (’65 B.S. Landscape Architecture) is the recipient of a 2017 Penn State Alumni Fellow award, the most prestigious honor given by the Penn State Alumni Association.
Neal is a longtime National Park Service (NPS) administrator who retired as chief of cultural resource preservation services, National Capital Region (NCR), in 2009. The first woman elected president of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), she has been a leader within the NPS and the landscape architecture profession overall, serving as an advocate for women and applying her expertise to projects throughout the Washington metropolitan area.
Neal began her career with the NPS in 1965 as a staff landscape architect, working on Lady Bird Johnson’s Beautification Program. She served as NCR chief of design services from 1989-96, and then was appointed chief of cultural resource preservation services.
Neal’s leadership in ASLA has paralleled her leadership in the NPS. She joined the organization in 1965, held offices in the local chapter, then served as treasurer and vice president before being elected national president in 1983. Her advocacy work began in the 1970s when she became chair of the ASLA Task Force on Women in Landscape Architecture.
Neal has also held leadership roles in the U.S. Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), and National Preservation Institute, among many others. She is a Fellow of ASLA, received the President’s Medal in 1987 and the Potomac Chapter Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, as well as being a US/ICOMOS Fellow and an Honorary Member of IFLA.
A life member of the Penn State Alumni Association, Neal became the first woman recipient of the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award in 1981. She served as secretary of the Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association and sat on the Penn State Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Advisory Board.
Neal visited Penn State University Park for an awards ceremony and critiques with Landscape Architecture faculty and students earlier in October.