Richard E. Durr, Jr., CPRP, AICP, PLA
Seminole County Parks and Recreation
All response items below have been submitted and communicated exactly as they were written by the nominee.
"To help FRPA provide the tools that support us all as necessary leaders in our communities in the areas of the four pillars. To lead in promoting inclusiveness and a sense of belonging within our organization, our profession and in our communities. And to strengthen our membership, supporting and meeting the needs of the spectrum of roles within our profession through expanded educational and support opportunities.
To serve and assist our membership, volunteers, and Board to “walk the talk” together!"
Rick Durr currently serves on the FRPA Board of Directors as Vice President having been elected in 2022. Rick’s volunteer work with FRPA includes serving as faculty at Abrahams, delivering educational sessions at many Annual Conferences and Agency Summit meetings, actively involved in recent strategic planning efforts, participating in the Economic Impact Calculator development process, and serving on and chairing various FRPA Committees.
Rick is Director of Seminole County’s Parks & Recreation Department and has participated in three CAPRA re-accreditation efforts with his agency. Prior to his role with the County, Rick served our profession as a consultant, assisting parks agencies across the state.
Rick is a graduate of the University of Florida, a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, is a licensed Landscape Architect and Certified Planner. Volunteer public service also includes serving as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner as Vice Chair and Chair. Has also served in various roles on a Youth Sports Board of Directors as a league organizer, treasurer, and nine years as a youth sports coach.
Rick is a native Floridian, has two adult children and resides in Lake Mary with his wife of over 33 years.
What does the field of Parks, Recreation, Conservation, Cultural Affairs, Arts, Leisure Services, etc., mean to you?
Very early in my career, I learned that Parks Is Life! Through parks – and our profession – we have a direct impact on every aspect of public life. Parks, recreation, conservation, cultural affairs, leisure services, education, the arts, public places, trails, greenways: these are everything that makes a place desirable to live. It gives communities identity. We are the lifeblood of our local economy. When times are prosperous and when times are difficult for us and our fellow residents – we are there in force to provide service, whatever is needed. We have a direct positive impact on every segment of our population, from the very old to the very young, and everyone in between. We aren’t just a ’nice thing to have’. We are necessary!
What motivates you to be a Parks and Recreation professional?
My passion for parks and public service, and my drive for making a positive difference in people’s lives and the communities in which they live, work and play is my ‘why’. I entered the profession from a somewhat non-traditional avenue, graduating with a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Florida in 1993. From the first time I worked professionally planning a regional trails project and park system master plan in 1995, I knew this was the driving purpose of my career. Since then, my career has remained rooted in public service. For the first two decades of my career, I had the privilege of working with a wide-ranging and diverse set of communities: from large metropolitan areas to small counties and towns, urban and rural, communities with large tax bases and those who were just establishing their own parks system. Working with residents and elected leaders of all sorts to realize their vision, establish goals and objectives to meet the current and future needs of their residents, and improve their quality of life through parks has remained my consistent focus.
Over a decade ago, I made the career decision to stop traveling, put down my own roots in our community, use what I had learned working with professionals and communities all over the Southeast, and become a full-time public servant. This service has included facilitating recreation programs, serving neighborhood groups to address their parks and trails needs, establishing excellent rapport with elected representatives, hands-on experience with parks user groups and non-profits, and it led to being named Director of the Parks & Recreation Department for Seminole County.
The motivation which has driven me since my first public project has remained steadfast and fully committed to delivering the very best of service to our fellow residents. And seeing the direct positive impact we provide as a profession continues to motivate me every day.
Why are you interested in serving FRPA as a member of the FRPA Board of Directors?
I have served on several Boards and committees throughout my career. But FRPA is absolutely the best professional organization I’ve ever been a part of. Our organization’s leaders, volunteers and staff have served us well and have been a consistently positive presence for me throughout my career. I originally volunteered for service on the Board of Directors – and began my current term as Vice President in 2022 – because it was time for me to give back to the association in a big way. By serving my fellow professionals, I wish to contribute to the momentum which will continue to carry us forward as the preeminent professional organization for all of us now and in the future.
- What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a member of the FRPA Board of Directors? Strategic Thinking, Interpersonal Skills
I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve on the Board based on the following:
My experience to date serving FRPA and our association membership: I am a current member of the Board of Directors. Serving as a Vice-President for over a year now, I’ve had the honor of working collaboratively with our current volunteer and executive leadership. As a team, we’ve accomplished a great deal – and more on that throughout this application – but I am especially proud of the work that we’ve done as a group with the new Strategic Plan.
Prior to my service on the Board of Directors, I have collaborated with our membership and Board on several Committees and work groups/task forces. Working as a team in service to each other and our membership is a critical aspect to successful service. I believe the work I was able to assist with – specifically the education continuum for Parks Professionals – will continue to help serve our association in the future as we continue to fine-tune our educational programs and offerings.
My varied experience within the profession – first as a consultant, and then as a public servant – has allowed me to work with professionals of all types, geographies, circumstances and in collaboration with their leadership, learning from them as much as I was able to give back to their communities during my time with them. This work allowed me to hone my experience with strategic planning, identifying needs and developing corresponding action/implementation plans. This experience collaborating on many strategic plans and efforts has given me a broad-based foundation to help create my own strategic plans for my own agency, as well as collaborate with our current Board of Directors on our association’s strategic planning efforts.
I have and continue to serve as a presenter and instructor within our profession. My recent honor serving as an instructor in the Abrahams-Jones Academy for Leadership Excellence this past year has allowed me to further expand my experience in this regard and apply this experience to the work we do as a Board. Every presentation or session I am a part of, I learn from the experience and apply it to the next.
Having varied experiences serving on several other non-profits and Boards. As previously stated, FRPA is not the first Board I have served with. I have learned from each of these experiences, and I bring those with me to every Board meeting.
My experience working in the private industry has given me the insights and opportunity to establish and operate my own business, learning and developing skills in the process which aid me to this day as a Director of a public agency.
Lastly, these combined, unique experiences have given me a firsthand appreciation for what it takes to be a good teammate, how to positively collaborate within a group, be a consensus-builder, and has been an excellent training ground for leadership skills.
What tools/resources do you utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks, Recreation and Leisure profession, and where would you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years? Business Development, Strategic Thinking, Knowledge of parks and recreation
The tools and resources which I utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks, Recreation and Leisure profession include outwardly directed efforts within the profession; inwardly focused efforts in working with a team of talented professionals to continually learn from each other; and lastly, continuing to learn from other industries and government leaders which affect and influence our profession.
Outwardly directed efforts specific to Parks, Recreation and Leisure Profession include:
• Active engagement in FRPA through volunteerism, collaboration, and fellowship with peers in the profession in both informal and formal settings. Examples include participating in the annual spring Central Florida meetings in DeBary, actively participating in our online offerings and programs, and lastly, active engagement in formal agency functions, such as the Agency Summit and Annual Conferences.
• From my fellow Board of Directors members and our ongoing collaboration in both association business as well as an exchange of ideas as we all face similar challenges in our communities.
• Facilitating inter-agency collaboration and involvement between the County and our seven Cities in strategic planning, such as inter-County and multiple jurisdictional master planning programs for parks, trails, and natural lands.
• Reading and research of the latest materials issued by FRPA and NRPA, as well as other national publications such as those for parks design and construction professionals, community planning bulletins and publications through the American Planning Association (APA), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), and engagement in landscape architectural-related programs.
• Reading daily bulletins through publications such as Athletic Business, Orlando Business Journal, and other business publications.
• Participation in the customized Annual Agency Performance Review through NRPA and analysis of the various national benchmarks and trends.
• Active involvement and outreach to leaders in the Parks profession, such as other award-winning agencies and universities on anything from current issues to best practices.
• Engaging with other non-profit organizations who are affiliated with our mission, such as statewide organization such as 1000 Friends of Florida, or local organizations such as Leadership Seminole or the Seminole County PARC’s Foundation.
• And last, but certainly not least, a commitment to continuous learning.
Inwardly focused efforts include creating a collaborative environment for our Parks & Recreation Department Leadership Team to better inform and support each other with the challenges and changes within our profession. These efforts include:
• Fostering a working collaboration between the senior members of our Department within each profession. Our Department includes not just the Parks & Recreation Division, but Greenways & Natural Lands Program, UF/IFAS Extension Services and Seminole County Library System. These Divisions include staff with diverse backgrounds, such as professionals with advanced degrees; licensed, certified professionals
in different, parallel fields; contractors and tradesworkers; trained educators; certified inspectors; professional biologists; and trained project managers. Harnessing this cross section of experience and input from professionals and specialists in their fields helps us to understand trends and insight into the future of our profession – and are critical to our continued success as an agency.
• Working with the Parks & Recreation Leadership team to facilitate management discussions within a bi-monthly book club, along with other readings and discussion of leadership and management materials and trends. The emerging concepts or principles discussed in our reading together is intended to then be incorporated into the active management of our agency, learning, and implementing new concepts as we go together.
Lastly, our professional does not exist in a silo, and is affected and influenced by other factors in governance, trends in economics, development, and redevelopment. Therefore, some of the ways to stay current on trends which influence our profession include:
• Staying actively involved in our County’s annual Legislative Agenda preparation.
• Being engaged with and collaboration with our County’s Executive Leadership Team.
• As a graduate and alumni member of Leadership Seminole, continuing to support and actively participate in the continuance of the program, collaborating with other professionals, non-profits, industry, and government leaders in the region, all with the mission of supporting the continued prosperity of our region.
• Presenting and facilitating discussions with other community leaders in other forums, such as within various Rotary Clubs and other community organizations.
• Collaboration with peers in other parallel and/or supporting related industries, such as volunteer efforts with Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association, Florida Planning & Zoning Association and Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
• Participating in educational sessions and professional outreach provided by other groups such as 1000 Friends of Florida programs.
Detail your involvement with FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years, and explain how those experiences have prepared you to serve on the FRPA Board of Directors. Governance and Volunteer Experience
My history of affiliation with FRPA began in 1999 with presentations given at local chapter meetings and regional mini-conferences, which is when I first became a member of the Association. The first educational session I taught at an Annual Conference was in 2000. My experiences at that time allowed me to develop as a strident supporter of FRPA in the corporate world. After my transition to full-time public service in 2012, my involvement with FRPA shifted gears toward service ‘on the inside’. More specifically, my direct FRPA experience over the last 3-5 years has included, but not limited to the following:
• Installed as a Vice-President in 2022 and currently serving on our Board of Directors.
• Serving as an instructor for the Abrahams-Jones Academy for Leadership Excellence in 2023.
• Actively participating in the last several Board Retreats.
• Work on the associations latest Strategic Plan update.
• Collaboratively organizing a regional education session earlier this year. Worked cooperatively on creating the agenda, recruiting a list of speakers, and presenting a session on Leadership within our profession.
• Presenting multiple successful educational sessions and serving on panels at the last five Annual Conferences.
• Volunteering as a Verification Officer for multiple sessions at Annual Conferences.
• Currently serving as Board Liaison for the Membership Committee, Collaboration Work Group, and as a backup on the Career Mapping Task Force.
• Presenter at several Agency Summit meetings.
• Volunteering to be a part of the development of the FRPA Impact Calculator in 2019 as a beta tester, including working with the development team in a full-day workshop.
• Serving on the Economic Impact Workgroup.
• Serving on the Editorial Committee for FRPA Magazine.
• Providing an article for FRPA Magazine for the Fall 2021 issue highlighting a case study promoting the FRPA Impact Calculator.
• Serving on the Environmental Sustainability Workgroup in 2021 and as Committee Chair in 2022.
• Assisting the Training & Education Committee by providing input on a proposed educational track for Parks professionals and through the eventual development of the current educational continuum.
Detail your leadership involvement with Associations/Community or Civic Organizations outside of FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years. Governance and Volunteer Experience
Outside of FRPA, the civic and community organizations I’ve been privileged to participate in an collaborate with include:
• Participant and Graduate of Leadership Seminole, Class 28. As a program participant, we raised funds and provided sweat equity toward the construction of an outdoor pavilion for Crossroads Corral – a non-profit which uses the care and interaction with horses as therapy for treating those with PTSD in the community. Through our fundraising and organizing activities, we were successful with the construction of the outdoor pavilion, allowing the hours of operation to be extended to meet the demands of the program. As an alumni and representative of our County Government, I continue to volunteer in presenting and representing our County trails infrastructure to other current and past participant classes.
• Currently serves as an ex-officio board member of the Seminole County PARC’S Foundation. The purpose of the 501(c)3 is to promote philanthropy in Seminole County benefiting parks and trails initiatives. My participation includes providing leadership on the Board for the non-profit and providing my expertise in participating in fund-raising activities. Our current major initiative is in raising funds for and engaging other non-profits for the creation of an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities in Seminole County.
• Currently serves as liaison for Seminole County on the Central Florida Expressway Authority’s Environmental Stewardship Committee. This committee reviews large, multi-jurisdictional planning efforts on regional projects and initiatives to ensure that principles of environmental stewardship are a part of these programs and projects. This involvement puts me in touch with other professionals from across the region who are dealing with similar types of issues in their communities.
• Over the last five years I’ve volunteered my time to other community groups – such as local Rotary Clubs and Community Associations. This outreach and volunteerism include other affiliated professional organizations such as the local American Planning Association chapter and the local Florida Planning & Zoning Association, serving as an advocate for our profession and providing education and professional development opportunities to other professionals.
Please explain your understanding of the responsibilities of being a Board member of a non-profit organization. Governance and Volunteer Experience, Interpersonal Skills, Strategic Thinking, Business Development
As a current Vice President on the FRPA Board of Directors, our responsibility begins with the concept of ‘governance’. And in its broadest sense, governance is how FRPA advances the overall direction of the association. While there are some aspects of governance which are very broad – such as our ‘duty of loyalty’ to the organization – some responsibilities are very specific, such as:
• Determining/supporting our mission and purpose: our mission and purpose are affirmed at each Board meeting. And as a part of our work on the Board, it is our responsibility to ensure that our actions reinforce and are in alignment with these concepts. We also have the responsibility to examine and re-examine our mission and purpose as the association continues move forward. This also includes ensuring that the Board undertakes strategic planning and organizational planning effectively as a group.
• Supporting our chief executive officer and the efforts of FRPA’s executive staff: as a Board, it is NOT our place to ‘get into the weeds’ in the execution of the business of our association. This distinction is critical to ensuring the association continues to govern effectively and not become an impediment to progress and the association’s business operations.
• A financial responsibility: it is our responsibility as a Board member to not just to review the financial statements of the association, but we have a responsibility to fully understand them, monitor them to protect the association’s assets to ensure adequate resources, monitoring and strengthen our programs and services, but to ensure that the Board operates in a legal and ethical way with our financial operations.
• Build a competent Board: As a Board, and as we continue to work with other members, volunteers, committee chairs, etc., it is imperative for the continued development of Board in future years, that we cultivate a pipeline of competent leaders throughout the association. Having a well-functioning pipeline of leadership candidates for future Boards is each of our responsibilities – more on that concept in other sections of this document.
• Be an ambassador for the association: not only do we have the responsibility to speak as one voice representing the Board to our membership, but to do so to enhance the organization’s public standing, both to our membership and to affiliated professionals. We want to continue to build our brand within our communities so that we are seen as the subject matter experts of our areas of public service.
• Ensure legal and ethical integrity in everything we do as a Board: this is listed last in my response, but without meeting this responsibility, none of the above is even possible. The Board has a responsibility to govern above reproach and being cognizant at all times that even the perception of a conflict of interest or any question of unethical or irresponsible behavior can have a severely detrimental impact on the overall association. Likewise, ethical decision-making and deliberate good governance cultivates the kind of perceptions and reputation that the Board, FRPA Executive Staff and the membership have come to expect from FRPA’s legacy.
What do you think is the most important role of the Board of Directors of FRPA specifically, and what would you think is the most difficult responsibility facing Board members?
The most important role in my opinion of the Board of Directors is to represent the Board of Directors and the Association by speaking with one voice – the ‘duty of loyalty’. Each Board member, regardless of position, function, or seniority, has the responsibility to represent the Board and the decisions and actions taken by the Board as a unified voice.
Conversely, I believe one of the most difficult responsibilities both in understanding and in execution is the financial oversight of the association’s business required by each Board member. Understanding the accounting process, the important role of oversight of the association’s finances and the ability to make sound financial decisions are critical to the current and future success of the association.
What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills do you have that would most benefit the Association (and ultimately the membership) if elected to the position? Please provide examples of your experience.
The first primary function of this position is to continue working collaboratively with the other Board members to strategically plan and shape the current and future direction of FRPA. My experience in working in strategic planning such as this includes:
• Actively participating as a Board member in the most recent update to the association’s Strategic Plan as well as collaborating on setting specific goals and corresponding actions needed to achieve those goals.
• Participating in strategic planning exercises with previous Boards for the development and deployment of the Impact Calculator.
• Experience and leadership within my current agency – Seminole County Parks & Recreation - as well as serving as a consultant facilitating strategic and master planning programs and sessions for other parks and trails systems. During my time with Seminole County, I have led the efforts to update our agency’s System Master Plan three times, as well as currently working to update the County’s strategic and implementation planning efforts for our current and future trails system.
• As a private business owner my experience includes creating a strategic plan and focus areas for my consulting firm and professional practice and implementing that strategic business plan on multiple levels, including efforts and initiatives such as direct to customer marketing, strategic partnerships and volunteer and community efforts.
My focus on and practice in strategic planning has always been that the plans must be focused on implementation and creating measurables for success. Otherwise, the plan is useless. That is true for the strategic planning we have done together on the Board.
Another function of this position is to share my business knowledge and experience with my fellow Board Members, working collaboratively for the benefit of the association. Examples of my experience in this area include:
• As agency Director, I am directly responsible for the operation and management of 194 employees working within four Divisions with a combined annual operating budget of over $20 Million and an annual Capital Improvements Program averaging several million dollars per year.
• As Manager of a County Division operating budget which averaged between $3 Million to $4 Million annually; drafted recommendations for Capital Improvement Programs for parks, recreation, and greenways programs; gave annual presentations and progress updates to the County’s stakeholders, County Management, and elected officials.
• In the private sector, I co-founded a consulting business, served as vice president of other consulting corporations, and as project manager, managed multi-million-dollar projects.
• Overall my career experience in parks and recreation business and expertise extends across all aspects of the parks spectrum: from parks planning, needs assessment, evaluation and analysis, and design of
county and municipal parks systems; public outreach and building consensus with elected and community officials; streets and public space planning, design and construction; facilitating, funding and administration of recreation programs; parks facility design, implementation and maintenance; establishing and maintaining budgets; coordination of parks and maintenance staff; managing multiple capital projects, programs and project managers; agency administration and identifying and facilitating partnerships within the community.
What challenges do you see on the horizon for the profession, and how would you see that impacting the Association? Strategic Thinking, Business Development, Governance
There are multiple challenges which I believe will continue to impact our profession and by default, our association. While some of these challenges are not new, the circumstances surrounding them continue to change. These include:
• Continued scarcity of agency funding and shrinking/competing public budgets for delivery of our services. This funding trend also has a direct impact on the available funding for employee and professional training and career advancement for public agencies. While we continue to play for an expanding membership, the financial pressures will continue to serve as a counterweight to future growth.
• Continued decline of public attitudes and trust toward government – the political trends of divisiveness and years of a decline in trust in government makes the delivery of our services more difficult. Thankfully, local trust from our constituents does remain high in many ways. The current trends, however, are not to our benefit.
• Continued pressure to be ‘everything’ to the community – with budget pressures and negative public attitudes, the pressure on Parks & Recreation agencies to do more with less has never been greater. The current trends also include a need to take on additional community support efforts more recently to confront the pandemic, and increased incidence of natural disasters and other relief efforts has stretched our resources thin.
There is, however, a reason for optimism. Each of these challenges has its inherent opportunities, which we continue to see play out in agencies throughout the state. While budget pressures continue to mount, nontraditional revenue and funding sources are becoming more mainstream, such as the use of federal funding availability (ARPA), tourism funding, and the continued high incidence of parks or trails-specific referenda. These efforts continue to be a winner at the polls, as residents continue to see the parks profession and services in a positive light. Lastly, we continue to prove how ‘necessary’ we are in our expanded roles in responding to major public health issues and natural disasters.
What do you believe to be the greatest opportunity for revenue growth/development for the Association?
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the way that programs and services are delivered, not just for parks agencies but for the association as well. As the limitations of the pandemic faded, it has opened opportunities for the Association to continue to expand new ways for revenue and growth. These opportunities include:
• Increased membership opportunities for frontline parks and recreation staff. With delivery of some services and educational opportunities moving to an online format, this has helped create an acceptance of this as a viable delivery model. Every agency and association have had a crash course into operating
almost completely in the digital age. I believe that as the use of this technology continues to improve, this should continue to be a tool for delivery of services and programs, especially for those frontline staff who have a very limited opportunity to attend annual or regional meetings in person. The opportunity may be in the creation of a limited membership which may be more cost effective for junior staff and agencies hard hit by budget cuts. And as training budgets are under increased pressure, offering these limited memberships – or even group rates – may provide an opportunity to increase the outreach for members as well as cultivate future full members. We continue to be currently involved in the creation of such an expanded educational and outreach effort heading into 2024 with the refinement of the education continuum and career path tracking. • Promotion and increase in local, regional, and on-line offerings for educational or networking sessions. The association has done a marvelous job at adapting to the limits of the post-pandemic workplace. As discussed in the point above, these offerings should not be phased out but rather continue to be refined as the workplace environment continues to evolve.
• CAPRA training and business practice training could be expanded. Either through offerings through the association directly or through strategic partnerships in the business field, investigate additional educational and training opportunities in these two specific areas. In my opinion, these two areas will to be high demand/training areas of need in the future.
One of the greatest challenges facing FRPA is the delivery of innovative and applicable professional development opportunities. What approach would you employ towards identifying potential training opportunities and how would you determine their overall effectiveness in meeting the needs of the membership? What strategy would you utilize for the development and implementation of these development opportunities?
With an endeavor like this in service of the membership, it begins with direct communication with the membership – such as our recent efforts started in the Environmental Sustainability Work Group. We conducted a needs assessment survey organized around the objective of determining and delivering innovative and applicable professional development opportunities for the membership. This survey and the responses collected helped guide the updating of online available resources as well as future outreach efforts.
We’ve also begun discussions about how to reach across and deliver services with other parallel disciplines. For example, an offering by a private provider of an online or in person seminar on economic impact of public projects may become a registered provider of CEU credits for the planning, landscape architecture and law profession. Diversifying opportunities across other disciplines may be an opportunity to further explore for the membership. That is one of the goals of our new Collaboration Workgroup.
Lastly some of the work we’re currently doing in the development of the education continuum and the career path development are to reexamine the educational opportunities and educational opportunities available for parks facility professionals. This current effort should continue to yield a robust offering for facility management professionals.
FRPA has foundational pillars that include – Health, Community Building, Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency, and Economic Impact/Development. Please describe the significance of these pillars, and how you utilize those to tell the story of parks and recreation.
Simply put, FRPA’s adopted four pillars are the foundation of our agency’s own pillars. The Seminole County Parks & Recreation Department operates with the four pillars – plus one – as part of our guiding principles of operation. For our agency, our mission is defined as “Enriching lives through outstanding cultural, educational, environmental, and recreational experiences”, and the four pillars are not just significant, they define how and why we do what we do. Specifically:
• Health - Provide facilities and learning environments for the community to create and maintain healthy lifestyles through wellness opportunities.
• Community Building - Ensure that the community has access to the benefits of local parks, trails, libraries, extension, and natural lands experiences and opportunities.
• Environmental Sustainability - Create recreational, conservation, preservation, and educational opportunities within the community that maintain healthy, vibrant, and balanced natural surroundings.
• Economic Impact - Create opportunities and experiences that provide for economic growth and sustainability in the community.
• Financial Sustainability (the plus one) - Provide sound financial management in the Department to ensure fiscal sustainability and effective decision making by providing staff with the necessary resources and tools for success.
Within the guiding principles of these pillars however, we’ve also continued the effort with the FRPA Board of Directors to refine and reexamine these principles through the lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The Board worked to update the Strategic Plan around each of these pillars through DEI, and I am now facilitating an effort to address the same issues within my own agency.
Some of my experience with strategic planning and implementation has been discussed in previous question responses. However, to sum up, the experience includes:
• Service on the current Board of Directors to reinforce the importance of the Four Pillars and their importance within our new Strategic Plan.
• Working with the Environmental Sustainability Work Group to conduct a survey to guide us in the future delivery of information and best practices to our membership.
• Service on the Executive Board of Directors of the Palms West Athletic Association. Our Board set an annual review of our strategic plan with an update of our goals, then implemented the plan through operational objectives and execution. My role and experience serving on this board in implementation was measured both in the macro as well as the micro - literally down to the penny -as I was both responsible for tracking and managing our financial status during program implementation as well as reporting both successes and failures to our Board as well as our partner the Village of Royal Palm Beach.
• Currently serving as an ex officio Board member of the PARC’S Foundation. Our strategic plan was built to address both general needs as well as the creation of a specific fundraising program for a specific project. An implementation plan was then put into place and is currently in process of being executed.
• As a park planning consultant, I evaluated almost two dozen parks agencies with the purpose of creating a master plan with an appropriate and realistic implementation strategy and plan. These plans helped to define success for the agencies, as well as create a plan which was easily understandable to their elected officials and the general public.
The current FRPA strategic plan includes three categories of work which include: Activating FRPA’s Influence and Credibility, Activating our Profession, and Activation our Professionals. Please elaborate on your
understanding of these categories and how you would engage in each area. Strategic Thinking, Business Development, Governance, Volunteer Experience
My service on the Board to date has afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with our leadership and with a cross-section of association members to develop the new BOLD Action Plan. Through active participation and various leadership roles of the Board, we worked with a consultant at the retreat earlier this year to develop the updated Strategic Plan and implementation matrix (along with the outstanding hashtags!). These include the following:
• Activating FRPA’s Influence and Credibility - Goal: FRPA is the source of subject matter experts in building, enriching, and connecting vibrant communities necessary for Florida's future (#Weknowcommunity). Goals of this initiative includes establishing a subject matter expert collective/bureau both for our membership to utilize as a resource as well as expanding proactively our outreach and relationships with other allied or parallel organizations and associations. These efforts are being designed to expand our influence and expertise across the profession, as well as positively increase our presence and effect on legislative process.
• Activating Our Profession – Goal: FRPA is the hub and guiding force for leading, connecting, educating, and advocating for today and tomorrow (#Leadingthenation). Our success strategies in this initiative include expanding and diversifying our educational opportunities for our membership – an effort which I have been directly involved prior to serving as a Board member. This initiative also includes fostering an atmosphere of local connections. This is a longer-term goal which will build on current efforts to expand the educational and outreach opportunities. This is an item which I would be very involved with as President-elect. My personal background across multiple disciplines and past and current relationships with other organizations will benefit the association and Board greatly.
• Activation of Our Professionals - FRPA provides career pipeline for parks and recreation professionals (#Whatwecandoforyou). I am currently involved in the Career Mapping Task Force and serving as a backup Board liaison. Building off past initiatives of which I have been an active participant – such as the educational continuum previously established – this ambitious task to create a resource for our membership will pay great dividends to future educational and career track opportunities. This workplan will also be a major initiative which I would continue to participate and support in a term as President-elect and beyond. Currently our efforts in the Membership Committee will be an integral part of this implementing this longer-term strategy.
Please describe how you would actively promote the use of the FRPA Impact Calculator, and the importance of telling the story of parks and recreation to the FRPA membership as well as external audiences.
The promotion of the FRPA Impact Calculator is critical to the continued use and adoption into the mainstream of the not just the parks profession here in Florida, but also among other professions which are active in the parks business, such as planning and landscape architecture. Unfortunately, the rollout of the calculator was interrupted with the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting face to face meetings and other initiatives such as further education and promotion at the Agency Summit. In this case I was actively involved in the promotion of the Impact Calculator, and if I am fortunate to continue my services on the Board, I would continue those efforts. These efforts have included:
• Cultivating working examples and/or instances where the calculator has been utilized and promote those examples to the membership. Examples may include the calculator being used for a specific project
such as calculating the impact of a potential land purchase for a new park on adjacent property values; the economic impact through tourism of a proposed or completed program or special event; or an example from an agency who has already used the calculator on their entire system. Illustrating examples of success stories would be an attractive marketing and promotional campaign to inform the membership of the calculator’s capabilities and successes. I put this strategy into practice by authoring an article for FRPA Magazine illustrating this type of example. • Continue education and training initiatives at future meetings. We have a compelling story to tell , so continued repetition of the story is paramount to its continued and future success. Education of the membership on the uses of the calculator is a long-term venture and should continue, providing a consistent drumbeat of messaging and education into the foreseeable future.
• Continue to use the calculator within our own agencies. Current Board members and professionals should be encouraged to incorporate the calculator into their own agencies and identifying opportunities to do so should be encouraged.
• Begin planning for the strategic use of the calculator across other supporting or parallel disciplines. As we continue our work within the new Strategic plan, we should continue to explore a strategic partnership with the planning and landscape architecture/park planning professions to make critical in-roads into those industries. The goal of making the calculator an accepted industry standard could be enhanced with use across those professions, helping to make the calculator, the process, and the findings part of the industry’s standard best practices. A process forged and led by FRPA.
FRPA is intentionally focusing on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Please describe how you will support the Association’s commitment to diversity and encourage membership from diverse populations to engage with the Association.
Initially as a volunteer, and then as a Board Member, I was an active participant during the first year of our DEI efforts and the creation of FRPA’s DEI policies. And while our self-assessment of the association’s policies and the views, perceptions and attitudes of our membership did reinforce the notion that FRPA does create and maintain a feeling of ‘belonging’, it is critical to ensuring our membership is well-represented at various levels throughout the organization for the Board to continue to both utilize the previous DEI effort, but to also ensure that those individual goals and objectives are a part of the efforts being realized within the new strategic plan. That is one current effort being undertaken by the Board.
The continued creation of a culture of DEI is a purposeful endeavor – it doesn’t happen by accident or just by making statements or proclamations. It is a mindset and a philosophy put into practice. Therefore, the current and future Board can continue to elevate the search for diverse leadership, create new programs, help continue to build FRPA’s brand in this area, and recruit new members and future leaders, feeding the pipeline of volunteers and leaders all over again. This deliberate mindset can help us to identify needs in our leadership pipeline and direct us toward making deliberate decisions and actions toward this goal.
IN ADDITION TO THE “QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED BY ALL NOMINEES”, NOMINEES FOR PRESIDENT ELECT MUST RESPOND TO THE FOLLOWING:
As President, you will oversee discussions at the Board level that include multiple agendas, numerous wants and desires of members, and meeting the goals and objectives outlined in the governing documents of FRPA, as well as meeting the revenue needs of the Association. Describe your experience in leading a board and the use of Robert’s Rules of Order, and your preferred process to reach consensus in this scenario.
My experience in leading a Board and the use of Robert’s Rules of Order, and process to achieve consensus is built through active participation and collaboration with the existing Board. And while each experience is unique based on the specific missions and governing structure of each Board, there are many commonalities which direct collaboration and leadership experience helps to refine. My specific experience includes the following:
• Experience on the FRPA Board of Directors beginning in August 2022. I have attended prior Board meetings beginning in 2021 as a committee chair and elevated that participation and collaboration as a Vice President on the Board beginning in 2022. As with all things, our interpersonal relationships with our fellow Board Members allows for continued understanding of the dynamics of any Board, but also allows for insight into how to operate the meetings as well as how each group reaches consensus. A sound, fundamental foundation of consensus building techniques – such as active listening, a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect, and helping to guide conversation toward consensus through ideas and actions – are critical to our productivity and success as a Board. I have also had the privilege of working with several current and past-presidents and directly observing and assessing how each facilitates the Board meetings and generate consensus within the Board.
• Serving as a committee member on the Environmental Stewardship Committee for the Central Florida Expressway (CFX) since 2019. While this committee and our association are very different in their missions and structure, in this case, CFX staff sets the agendas and manages the content of the meetings, while the Chair (or Vice Chair) manages the meeting itself utilizing Robert’s Rules. We are on a rotation basis for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair and my turn is upcoming.
• Serving on the PARCs Foundation as an ex-officio Board member since 2019. This non-profit parallels in structure the FRPA Board, it is run entirely by volunteers and lacks an executive staff. Therefore, the Board members have additional responsibilities in conducting and establishing Board agenda items beyond those we have at FRPA. Robert’s Rules continue to be the way meetings are conducted. However, each Board member has a very different function relative to the operation of the non-profit. As an ex-officio member, my contribution is limited. This limitation however opens opportunities to help develop consensus around agenda items and initiatives where I can actively help build consensus between Board members without the need – or weight – of having to vote myself.
• Serving on the Board of Directors of the Palms West Athletic Association for 2 ½ years. The operation of this Board was more of a mix between our Board at FRPA and my involvement with the PARC’s Foundation. There was no executive staff at PWAA, but my involvement and contribution were literally on a week-to-week basis, almost as contributing staff. For a portion of my Board involvement, I served as Treasurer of the association, which did include monitoring and oversight of the association’s finances, but also included processing of invoices, direct payments to vendors, collection of fees and concession/equipment revenue and other detailed, necessary functions. Consensus-building with the Board was more about making sound business decisions during the season and off-seasons, revenue, and expense projections for the current and next years, and less about overarching and big-picture strategic initiatives.
• Experience with participating in, preparing for, and being directly involved in Board of County Commissioner (BCC) meetings and hearings in Seminole County beginning in 2012. Serving as staff, we
prepare agenda items in detail; collaboratively setting the entire agenda; briefings on individual agenda items; and serving as the staff who implement the direction of the BCC. These functions provide valuable insight and experience in understanding the various functions of the BCC in terms of Board governance (a great parallel with FRPA’s Board!) as well as the function and duties of staff within the conduct of Board business. Probably the best example of the use of Robert’s Rules. • Serving as a Council-appointed Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Commissioner for over nine years, including serving as Chair or Vice Chair for four years with the Village of Royal Palm Beach. The Village’s Planning staff set the agendas and distributed the agenda packages for review prior to the meetings, it was up to my fellow Commissioners to run the meeting as well as conduct all the detailed development and permit reviews for all development activities. Preparation for these meetings took multiple hours, sometimes for meetings more than once a month. Commissioners did the heavy lifting on these necessary processes, which were governed by municipal ordinances, and required a great amount of due diligence and work just to prepare for the hearings. The composition of the Commission was deliberately inclusive of many disciplines which contributed to any development project: I filled the role as a licensed landscape architect and land planner, while others were engineers, environmental scientists, planners, and architects. As a municipal Board, we were governed strictly by the operation of Robert’s Rules, and as Chair and Vice Chair for multiple years, those duties and operations were my direct responsibility. Consensus-building was less about guiding principles or strategic planning, but much more detailed between Commissioners, Village staff and the development applicant. Building consensus was sometimes very contentious, but we continued to meet the challenge through actively listening to the views of each Commissioner, finding commonalities between them all, setting specific recommendations and actions which all Commissioners could endorse from each of their specific perspectives, and forging detailed, specific recommendations and prescribed actions, all with the intent of not impeding the planning and development process. My fellow Commissioners and I took our roles very seriously, and we were told by many that we may have been the most detailed oriented – yet very fair – P&Z Commission in Palm Beach County.
In summary, my extensive experience utilizing Robert’s Rules in a variety of settings and various organizations provide the framework for the structure and formal processes of the meeting. Or put simply, this provides the ‘science’ of conducting a successful meeting or process. Generating consensus, I consider to be more of the ‘art’ behind the conduct of the meeting. All consensus-building begins with the orderly, active listening of all viewpoints, allowing for each Board member to be heard in an orderly fashion. The President acts as the facilitator of the discussion with the intent to achieve an actionable recommendation or Board decision. Facilitation is not about promoting my personal or individual agenda; it is to achieve an outcome that the Board can endorse with one voice. Understanding the Board’s various personalities and our ability to work collaboratively and with respect is of primary importance.
Describe your view of the role between the Association Board of Directors and the Association’s Executive Office. Governance and Volunteer Experience
In its simplest terms, the roles between the Association Board of Directors and the Associations’ Executive Office can be described as the difference between ‘Governance’ and ‘Administration’. I have discussed at length the various responsibilities and governance functions of the Board of Directors in response to previous questions. By contrast, however, the role of the Executive Office begins with the fact that the Board has only one employee – the Chief Executive Officer of the association. It is the CEO’s position and responsibility to establish budgets, hire and manage the executive staff, implement initiatives and official direction required by Board decisions, training and supporting organizational volunteers, serve as liaisons to committees, communicate with the membership and be accountable for the operation of the day-to-day business of the association.
The Board’s role is not to ‘get into the weeds’ on management or operational aspects of the association’s business, but to provide that oversight required and provide overall direction for the organization on behalf of the association membership.
Provide an example of a strategic initiative (of no less than two years in length from concept to completion) for which you served in a leadership capacity. Explain how you identified the issue and where your organization/team needed to be upon completion, as well as the steps you took to achieve buy-in from your internal partners and external customers.
The initiative described below was developed working with a previous FPRA Board through direct participation with an established committee at first and then subsequently being named Committee Chair as the process continued to create the product currently described as the ‘educational continuum for parks professionals.’ The process followed the general process as outlined below.
• Surveying the membership as stakeholders – working with staff, we created a survey of our membership designed to identify education needs.
• Work through committees – working collaboratively with the work group then as a Committee Chair, we continued to guide the development of the continuum and worked with association staff to continue to refine the work product. As an important note, as a group we were not exactly sure what the outcome of the effort would be, or what the work product might eventually look like. But through an iterative process of development, we were able as a group to refine the deliverables of the effort.
• Proactive facilitation of discussions/meetings – keeping the effort and the various meetings productive and advancing the effort forward took very deliberate planning and organization. Reviewing previous actions and meeting results, preparing for the next meeting, and making sure each member had both general and specific input into the proceedings.
• Recruit ideas – a major aspect of the meeting and process facilitation was the deliberate recruitment of different ideas and concepts. We worked cooperatively as a group to cultivate a diverse cross-section of definitions, concepts, and best practices, between large and small, municipal, and county agencies – to ensure we continued to develop a continuum that would ‘fit’ in each of those settings where our membership live and work. The product needed to be specific enough to provide detail, yet portable enough to be adapted to the many environments in which our membership originates.
• Allow for individual input and healthy debate during meetings – with this cross-section of agency types and members represented, it was critical for us to engage in healthy debate and ensure that all viewpoints and recommendations were heard. We needed full engagement to deliver a good product.
• Coordination with FRPA staff and leadership – working with our Board liaison(s) as well as FRPA executive staff was critical to success. Staff provided not just recommendations or suggestions but was a huge part in ensuring that our work product continued to reflect the larger FRPA association as a whole and was an integral part of Board initiatives moving forward. Working with the Board during this process kept the recommendations relevant and meaningful as we neared completion of the work product.
• Revise and update based on the latest information – the first several iterations were not the final product. But continuing a cyclical process of refinement and improvement throughout the multiple year process allowed us to make incremental improvements toward the completion of a meaningful work product.
• Help organize the effort and work product – as the process continued, there were times where we needed individual members to help organize and even reformat the work product as needed. This was a group effort among contributing members. The result is a document which is currently being utilized as the Board moves ahead with the latest Strategic Plan and efforts in career mapping. The work product has also
assisted us in my own agency, helping to influence the continued refinement of our own succession planning for our staff and administration.
In the non-profit industry, the concept of “populating for performance” refers to identifying and recruiting individuals to serve in leadership roles, who have the skill set necessary to move forward the identified strategic initiatives of the Association. Relative to the FRPA Board of Directors and Committees/Workgroups, how would you approach the task of identifying members to serve in pivotal roles within the Association?
The work of the FRPA Board of Directors at identifying and recruiting new leaders at different levels within the association begins at the work group and committee level. The committee level is essentially the proving ground for cultivating and developing future leaders. The Board liaisons and executive staff works directly with our stable of volunteers over the course of a year on a specific work plan. This consistent interaction allows for the identification of those ‘doers’ and those potential leaders through a variety of ways: do those volunteers follow through with the tasks at hand? Do certain volunteers take on a leadership role on a specific item, then deliver on their commitments? Do they help serve as an instrument of building consensus, fostering productive relationships between other volunteers? And so on.
Working with the various volunteers allow for then the recruiting of those high performing and engaged members as possible candidates for next year’s efforts, possibly as a committee or task force Chair. Those committee chairs then have the opportunity work more closely with the sitting Board, having other offline communication with the Board liaisons and the executive staff to help establish direction, deliverables or intended outcomes for the group of volunteers they are working with. As those committee leads continue their work, it allows the Board members to begin to recruit those who the Board believes would make for good candidates as future Board members. And for those two demonstrate a desire to continue their involvement with FRPA at potentially the Board level, suggestions can be made regarding which skills may require further development by the potential candidate.
This deliberate design and intentional follow-through on these efforts by the Board can help establish a healthy pipeline of talented volunteers and future leadership that will continue to pay dividends for future Boards and continue to strengthen the future of the organization.
One other aspect of this process is the self-evaluation of each Board and Board member at the end of each term. Identifying the existing strengths and weaknesses of each Board – and identify where the greatest needs are in terms of a diversity of members and skillsets – can then be used to serve as a guidance for recruitment of leaders which have been identified as a Board need. Regardless of exactly how the process is developed and implemented, taking deliberate actions to evaluate the Board by ‘looking inward’ can be an essential aspect to the development of our future leaders.
The diversity of the FRPA membership base is extremely wide, based on geographic location, professional level, area of interest, and many other factors. What strategy(ies) would you utilize to effectively engage in dialogue with the membership? Additionally, how would you go about analyzing the various needs and desires into a manageable and realistic action plan for the Association?
Similarly, to the response of the previous question, the ability and need of an organization to ‘look inward’ and evaluate their own strengths, weaknesses, and current and future needs, we need to engage in dialogue
with the membership at all levels. But as with many successful operations, it is not a ‘top down’ methodology for engagement, but rather you build from the ‘bottom-up’. What that means to me is that we continue to support a wide range of opportunities, venues, and methods for our leadership to interact with our membership at all levels and in all regions. This would mean continuing to support regional meetings and events, including educational opportunities, socials, and other interactions with the membership. Which also means active participation by the Board in these events and opportunities. This provides meaningful, deliberate ways of input for the membership, and it breaks down perceptions of some who may feel the Board is inaccessible or does not welcome their points of view. This is not unlike the performance of a Director within a Parks & Recreation agency. Best practices say a leader should spend time out in the field, interacting with staff at all levels and providing a conduit for feedback. We know these kinds of practices can pay dividends for an agency or business. The same could be said about our Board of Directors.
Secondly, specifically targeting all regions within the state for representation on committees and work groups – a practice which we are actively managing – will allow the Board to ensure we have done everything we can to have input from all our various regions, agencies, and other groups. This deliberate practice can also be applied to identifying and reload the volunteer and leadership pipeline.
Regarding identifying association needs and desires and building manageable action plans, I’ll refer specifically to the most recent development of the BOLD Action Plan. Through individual Board meetings, retreats using a facilitator to help move the process ahead and help us to ask the difficult questions, and to have a representative cross section of our membership participating in the process, it allowed us to build, develop and refine the action plan. It is very important that the action plan includes achievable, identifiable, and reasonable goals and milestones which can be measured, otherwise the plan becomes too generic and impossible to implement.
Through subsequent meetings with various task forces and committees, energizing those efforts through our volunteers and committee chairs, we then can track progress on the action plans through this direct engagement. The action plan should include efforts which may require multiple years and/or Boards to complete. Regardless, each of these efforts should then culminate with actions that can be taken by the Board in future actions and decisions. This represents a truly iterative, integrated, and deliberate process of improvement and advancement of the association.
What goals for the Association would you have during your year as President?
In response to this question, I am addressing first the term as President Elect in 2024-2025, but also as President in 2025-2026.
The goals of the Association during my year as President are rooted directly in our organization’s Strategic Plan and our work plan for that given year. Generally, in my term first as President-Elect, then as President, it would be my job to not just honor the Strategic Plan and Work Plan, but to serve as the enthusiastic ambassador for the work being done by the Board over that time. Continuity of the business of the Board from President to President should be the top priority.
More specifically, however, the current BOLD Action Plan - which was developed earlier in 2023 - will continue to not just be in effect, but we’ll still have important and specific actions to continue to deliver as an association. Some of those actions as currently defined will require additional refinement and development of either new action because of outcomes from the work currently being done by the existing Board and the
foundation currently being built. Much of these will require us as a Board to take the next steps with these actions, and determine what new actions are required to continue to achieve success with our BOLD association goals. This would include looking ahead to any adjustments, modifications, or updates to the new Strategic Plan. This critical self-analysis would include evaluating our overall progress needed for achievable success, addressing new or emerging issues, evaluating our successes as well as those not so successful, effects of changes within our profession and our goal of continuing to remain relevant and necessary to our profession and our communities.
As currently documented, there will be new work to be done at establishing and solidifying our collaboration and future alignment with other parallel, professional organization for the benefit and future of our association. There will be further work done in the career mapping efforts, the expansion of our educational opportunities to our membership, and so on.
In the final analysis, the role of President in any given year to serve the needs of the association and the Board as identified in our strategic plan and our work plan for that given year. The role as President is not about my personal agenda – it is a commitment to the foundation already in place for this association, and an enthusiastic ambassador of and in service to the work being done by the association, before, during and after my term as President. And a commitment to service which results in a stronger organization once my term has concluded.