WASHINGTON -- In 1974, Peggy O'Dell's job as a summer worker at the Gateway Arch consisted mainly of pointing people in the right direction.
Her latest position at the National Park Service entails considerably more authority: helping craft the agency's $3 billion budget; managing seven regional supervisors and 20,000 employees at nearly 400 parks and park offices; and working to protect some 84 million acres of national park land.
O'Dell started this morning as the Park Service's deputy director of operations, a job in which she will oversee "every aspect of park operations," the Park Service said in a release announcing her appointment.
"Peggy O'Dell knows how to get things done," Park Service director Jon Jarvis said in a statement.
In her Park Service career, O'Dell was superintendent at the Gateway Arch from 2004 to 2007. She has worked at national parks around the country and most recently was a regional director in charge of Washington's monuments and the National Mall.
She noted in a statement that she was eager to lead the Park Service toward its 100-year anniversary in 2016.
O'Dell, who grew up in Webster Groves, was a student at University of Missouri-St. Louis when a friend told her that the Gateway Arch was accepting applications for summer work.
A year later, she was a park ranger on the way to becoming a supervisor at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
She and her husband, Ben, also a Park Service employee, have two daughters and a son.
O'Dell will have budget oversight at a time when hundreds of millions of dollars are being sought from public and private interests for a grand plan to reshape the Gateway Arch grounds.