CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT

Julie Adams
Director
Winter Haven Parks, Recreation and Culture Director
All response items below have been submitted and communicated exactly as they were written by the nominee. 

Julie Adams joined the City of Winter Haven in March of 2021 as the Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture.  Julie earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing from the University of Central Florida and a Master of Science Degree in Sport, Recreation and Tourism Management from Georgia Southern University.  She is a Certified Public Manager through Florida State University and a graduate of Leadership Winter Haven Class 41. Before joining the City of Winter Haven, Julie spent 17 years with the City of Lakeland Parks and Recreation Department, serving as an Assistant Superintendent of Recreation.  Julie graduated from the Joe Abrahams Academy for Leadership Excellence in 2009. 

Julie works with an amazing and talented team that includes Parks and Grounds, Recreation, Aquatics, Libraries, Facility Maintenance, Golf, Cemeteries, Special Events, Rentals and Summer Camps.  Julie is working alongside her team towards CAPRA Accreditation, seeks continual process improvement and efficiency and helps her team remember that in Parks and Recreation – we GET to have fun through our work impacting the community! 

When not working with and serving the Winter Haven Community, Julie enjoys being outside, working out, live music and lots of laughter.

Why do you want to serve FRPA as President-Elect?

FRPA has been a critical and constant connection for my growth and development since the beginning of my career.  I would be honored to serve as President and assist in continuing the momentum and progress of the Association, in turn assisting my colleagues and the profession in continuous improvement and growth.  There are some amazing things in the works – I would be so proud to help facilitate and propel them into the future. 

What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a member of the FRPA Board of Directors?  

I am a unique combination of intention, experience, initiative, vision and fun – all wrapped into one.  I consider myself a people person and strive to connect on an interpersonal level with my team and my community.  I live with intention – and strive to engage any group that I am working with from a place of confidence and connectedness.  I feel I have what it takes to continue the efforts of those who have served before me to propel the association successfully forward into the future, taking up the responsibility of the membership’s success while creatively strategizing to leverage the skills and creativity of the Board. 

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?  

Over the years – the availability of information has become inundating; one of the reasons why I feel it is imperative to choose wisely when seeking and absorbing information. 

An Active and Nurtured Network: Primarily, I have developed a network of colleagues through the years that help me stay fluent and connected to the heartbeat of Parks and Recreation both throughout the state of Florida and beyond.  That network also serves as a sounding board for me for challenges and barriers to success to wild ideas and innovative strategies.  These are the crew that are on the other end of the line when I have a “tell me, am I crazy, or what?” moment or situation.

Legislative Affairs: Decisions being made at the federal level impact local government more quickly and directly than I have ever realized before.  In an attempt to be more informed with how that influence and exchange occurs, I am giving more attention and effort to absorb and understand legislative activity.  Since becoming a Director, this has been more of a defined and practiced goal.

Continuing Education: I am a sponge for information of all kinds, but specifically regarding sharpening my skillset in leadership, strategic planning and visioning; three of the most impactful responsibilities I have to be able to serve my team to the best of my ability.  I subscribe to the Athletic Business magazine; a publication I specifically appreciate due to its focus within the athletic arena, but also outside of Parks and Recreation – an opportunity to share knowledge and cue in to trends happening across industry at large.  Additionally, I attend the Athletic Business Conference annually, taking the opportunity to attend sessions outside of Parks and Recreation – in an effort to, again, learn and gain insight as to what may be happening in other industries that could influence, shape and benefit our Parks and Recreation industry.

This is in addition to opportunities within my own organization and, of course, FRPA. 

Podcasts: A longer commute to work opened my eyes to the value of using that time to expand my horizons and surprisingly, knowledge in the industry.  Podcasts have become a way for me to take a deeper dive into subject matters previously untapped – and also opening up opportunities for me to learn more from industry leaders. 

Social Media:  In order to reach some of our most impactful target audiences and constituents, we must be voracious consumers of the platforms they utilize to help make their decisions.  With that being said, I benchmark other agencies’ and private industry’s social media platforms, in addition to higher education institutions who deal in the same currency.  I look for patterns, precursors and indicators as to what we may be seeing affect our business in the form of trends and influences.  What works for them?  How do they communicate their message?  How could we do that to better our connection and communication?

Detail your involvement with FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.  

-2017/2018 Conference: Speaker Check-In and Verification Desk
-While with the City of Lakeland, our team helped manage this area of responsibility.
-2022 Abrahams-Jones Academy
-Shadowed Joan Byrne to learn role of facilitating this program.

Detail your leadership involvement with Associations/Community or Civic Organizations outside of FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.  
- City of Winter Haven; 2021 – Current
- Cultural Arts Advisory Committee
- Served as Staff Liaison; helping guide reforming efforts
- Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce; Leadership Winter Haven; Class 41 (August 2021 – July 2022)
- Florida Southern College; Webcast Broadcaster (2014 – current)
- Play-by-Play commentator for Women’s Volleyball program

 

Please explain your understanding of the responsibilities of being a Board member of a non-profit organization.  

One of the most important responsibilities is that of being a good steward of other people’s money, investments and benefits.  Remembering that it is with upmost ethical and honest behavior that the Board must execute to ensure the right and responsible forward movement for the organization. 

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?  

To me, the most important role of the Board of Directors of FRPA is to serve our membership in a capacity that is representative of the membership.  More specifically, to consider the future of the Association by in a capacity of representation of a group of professionals, ensuring that each area of the membership has been considered when making decisions for the membership, as a whole. 

To me, the most difficult responsibility facing Board members is understanding that you are never going to have a membership that is 100% pleased, 100% of the time.  Coincidentally, that is the same mantra any successful leader must have to continue forward progress. 

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. 

Ultimately, the role and primary function of President is the quintessential servant.  The person who successfully fills this role must be able to lead with a servant heart, all while being able to provide strategic direction, rally the membership to achieve goals and get excited about the future of the association.  Additionally, creating an environment of synergy and success even across distance and through now-normal zoom meetings – this person must be able to continuously have the strategy in mind as the plans develop and steps are executed. 

I possess the can-do attitude, passion and drive to serve.  Over the years, growing through my career, I have had a very real and felt maturation; feeling the shift from “me” to “we”.  Realizing that the ultimate win happens when the greater good is achieved, the high road wasn’t always the easiest to take.  As the years have progressed, the lens I use to view the world has changed.

Becoming a Director in a new agency, I have focused in on becoming not only the one leading the strategic vision, but also becoming very confident in a role of facilitator and remover of barriers.  Understanding what is a process problem and what is a people problem.  These skills would prove critical in the role of President, as well. 

What do you believe to be the greatest opportunity for revenue growth/development for the Association?  

Changing the way we think about growth and development.  We, as a group of talented, experienced Parks and Recreation professionals, have to be willing to get extremely creative and push the boundaries to uncover what could be an untapped opportunity. 

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?  

As stated previously, I believe we can learn a lot from the higher education institutions when it comes to innovation and professional development opportunities.  Taking the time to explore what other industries are doing to reach their constituents utilizing innovation and creativity.   Using surveying tools to reach out to our membership to find out what kinds of development opportunities we are missing – where are the gaps?  Where are we coming up short?  How can we meet the needs of our constituents?  Communication has to be the foundation of forward progress and movement; having a direct line with our membership for continuous feedback on our initiatives and efforts. 

Staying current is difficult – especially in these times of constant change, updates and modifications to just about everything we do.  We must remain flexible and ready to pivot as we build our future plans.  Implementation of development opportunities is only as good as the quality of development; if we take too long to design the implementation, we will miss the opportunity to connect with a quality education piece.  So balancing timeliness with currency. 

FRPA has adopted four pillars within its Strategic Plan – Health, Community Building, Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency, and Economic Impact/Development.  Please describe the significance of these pillars, and your experience with strategic planning and implementation. 

Health: The Health Pillar’s existence has paved the way for many positive changes in our communities by prioritizing health in a myriad of ways.  Additionally, consideration of all types and forms of “health” make this pillar a wholesome perspective of health within our communities.  By taking a stand for health, as a whole, FRPA is helping change the way our constituents view being healthy, making strides toward improved health and healthy habits into the future.  Making continuous investments into this effort by creating standards and guidelines helps provide a roadmap for others to attain a better level of health.  These small changes now create great impact in the future – helping our future generations live a healthier and happier life. 

Community Building: Creating a network – building an engaged citizenry – helping connect people.  Community Building is all about helping one another and feeling a part of a greater initiative.  To me, this greater community helps us all feel like we belong – and are a part of something. 

Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency: We must be good stewards of the world we have – and take care of it so that after we are gone, future generations still have a beautiful landscape and topography to appreciate and perpetuate.  Through the environmental sustainability pillar, FRPA is doing the work to ensure that natural lands can still exist mutually with smart growth. 

Economic Impact/Development: Definitely one of the most underutilized pillars (in my opinion), we could all do better at telling the story of how the Parks and Recreation Industry impacts economic impact and development.  By pairing greater education and access to the FRPA Calculator, industry professionals can be the connection between what we do and the greater good for our communities. 

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.  

Before anyone can use the FRPA Impact Calculator, it must be understood.  One of the best things I ever did for myself and my team was to attend a session to learn how to utilize the Impact Calculator.  I would encourage the Association to offer more sessions to learn how to use the Calculator – explaining the benefits.  Also, case studies of those communities who have been utilizing the Calculator successfully and how that practice has benefitted them.

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.  

Diversity makes us better, stronger and more prepared to have a successful future as an association.  As a member of the team responsible for making decisions affecting not only the membership, but the future of the association, I will work with my colleagues to gain a better understanding – through data and information seeking – as to who we are seeing, reaching and interacting with through our opportunities to connect.

One of my favorite questions to ask is “why?”  When we identify underrepresented groups or cohorts – I will be the one to ask “why?”  Why haven’t we heard from them?  Why are they not participating with us?  Making genuine connections to help broaden the fabric of our FRPA Community starts with a phone call, an invitation to have a seat at our table. 

Board members of FRPA are expected to commit 50 – 100 hours per year to Association work and activities.  Do you fundamentally have the time to serve on our Board?  

I do.  Looking forward to the opportunity and thankful to be considered. 

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. 

Although I do not have a wealth of experience in leading a Board, I am gaining experience currently through our Cultural Arts Advisory Committee.  Additionally, it is my preference to use next steps and identifying goals of sessions to encourage consensus and forward movement.  In other words, beginning with the end in mind.  This strategy works at all levels of meetings, sessions, etc.  Above all else, mutual respect for everyone’s time and effort in participation is always the key, as well. 

Describe your view of the role between the Association Board of Directors and the Association’s Executive Office.  

Teammates. Working together to ensure that the mission of FRPA is fulfilled through thoughtful and careful consideration of challenges, deliberation and goal setting and ethical and honest execution of steps to ensure a bright future for FRPA. 

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.  

Special Events Review Team: While working with the City of Lakeland, I lead the charge to create a team comprised of all of the departments that come together to facilitate special events in public spaces.  Upon being promoted to the Assistant Superintendent of Recreation, I was assigned Special Events.  At that time, most events that occurred were facilitated through a series of phone calls from one department to another to cover the staffing and space needs of the event. 

As a big fan of process improvement – I saw opportunities for improvement and growth upon stepping into this role.  I recruited the help of some of the other department representatives and we initiated a DMAIC process improvement process to identify what our challenges really were, how we could serve the community better and what really needed to be our process.  Upon completion, we had developed a one-stop-shop software, enabling customers of special events to get everything done at the rental office; whereas before, they were responsible for pushing the steps of the application through City offices themselves.  Not only did the process improve, the quality of service and event facilitation improved, as well.  

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?  

Building momentum. 

Each year, my network within the membership grows, but only with intentional and genuine effort.  First, I would identify what needs we have within the roles; what kind of people are we seeking?  What talents are we missing?  What do we need to be successful?  More successful?  Where did we come up short before?  Once I have that list – and a good idea of what kind of person we are seeking – I would set out to get to know more people.  Connecting strengths and personalities with roles and responsibilities.  Reaching out to people and telling the story of FRPA – and helping build the buy-in we need to continue success into the future.  Breaking down any misconceptions – misinformation can kill any great strategy. 

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?  

As a leader, especially a President of an organization, it’s important to establish a connection and, over time, a level of trust with the membership.  With the challenges identified above, it’s even more important for the person in this role to lead, connect and engage with intention.  Intentionally making space and time to connect with the membership, creating opportunities to connect while representing the Association and thinking outside the box when it comes to creating opportunities for dialogue and feedback.   More specifically – what could engage feedback and dialogue look like?  It may be different for different groups. 

Social Media?

Coffee with the Pres?  (zoom)

Regional Opportunities. 

Creating an action plan requires the team.  Leading the board through some activities to identify needs similarities, separating concerns from challenges, people problems from process problems, and realizing that not every “problem” is a problem.  Also, helping others to be a little unconventional when it comes to thinking about growth and strategic planning – spin the traditional model and find innovative but sound ways to prepare for the future. 

 


Fernando “Fred” Couceyro
Director
Coral Gables Community Recreation
All response items below have been submitted and communicated exactly as they were written by the nominee. 

Fred Couceyro is the Community Recreation Department Director for the City of Coral Gables.  He has been employed by the City of Coral Gables since July 1996, when he began as Recreation Leader. In 2000, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Director, where he led the effort for the Department’s National Accreditation in 2001. In 2007, he was promoted to his current position of Director.  As Director, Fred oversees the operations of eight divisions, including facilities such as Venetian Pool, the Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center, the Adult Activity Center, Granada Golf Course and Kerdyk Biltmore/Salvadore Tennis Centers.  Throughout his tenure as a recreation professional, he has been very active in all aspects of the profession serving on several State, Region and District Level Boards.  Fred  has also been a presenter at education sessions, including annual state conferences, region meetings, and out of state conferences. In addition, he has served on the Board of the FRPA Foundation, has been a Lead Accreditation Visitor to several agencies throughout the country and has also contributed several articles to the FRPA Journal.  Fred has been a Nationally Certified Parks and Recreation Professional for over 20 years.

Why do you want to serve FRPA as President-Elect?

Parks and Recreation continues to be a passion for me. I have a love for what we do and for the wonderful experiences that we can provide for our communities.  I feel that the mission of our profession is a valuable one.  If given the privilege to serve as President, I will continue the initiatives we have developed and look for further ways to engage our professionals and to help them provide those experiences that our participants need.  

What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a member of the FRPA Board of Directors? 

Qualifications for any position are demonstrated though a mix of skills, aptitudes and prior experience.  I believe that I have accumulated these over the years of my professional career.  As an administrator for over 22 years with several years of serving of local and state recreation boards, I believe I have developed the proper skills needed for the position as well as the aptitude to perform it successfully.    This experience has afforded me the chance to work with groups of individuals towards common goals, work on planning initiatives of different time ranges and establish operating and financial programs for organization success.

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 field of parks and recreation is one where there are constant shifts and changes in all areas.  Whether it be the ever-changing work force and its best interests, programming issues and trends, operations management techniques and roles, or the challenges of gauging community interests, there is no one place or person that would be the sole resource to navigate this.  I look towards a combination of different resources.  Educational resources such as different management books and journal pieces, and magazine articles in all fields are helpful.  Networking with professionals both in the recreational field and in other business sectors provide valuable insights.  I also draw upon first-hand practical experiences such as visitations to other agencies and parts of the country as an accreditation visitor and presentation speaker.  All these different opportunities keep me abreast of the fluid nature of our profession and prepare me for the things on the horizon.    

Detail your involvement with FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.  Governance and Volunteer Experience

I have been involved with FRPA since the beginning of my professional recreation career over 20 years ago, having served on the state board in different capacities including Region Director and Interest Section Director.  I have volunteered at state conferences in different capacities as verification officer, registration volunteer and been a part of multiple Annual Conference Committees.  In the last 3-5 years, my experience has entailed volunteering at state conferences, serving on the FRPA Journal Committee, contributing articles for the FRPA Journal and presenting as a speaker at the Annual Conference, including five different sessions in 2021 and 2022.  Lastly, I am currently serving as the Vice President of Finance on the Executive Board.

Detail your leadership involvement with Associations/Community or Civic Organizations outside of FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.  

In the past years, I have been privileged enough to work with several civic and community organizations.  I serve as the main liaison between my City and the Junior Orange Bowl Association, providing services and guidance for one of the nation’s preeminent youth festivals including national tennis and golf tournaments that are among the most prestigious of its kind, and also presenting a youth parade that has taken place in the community for 75 years.  I also have worked with the Coral Gables War Memorial Association, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and the Coral Gables Community Foundation, assisting them with different events and program initiatives.  Outside of the work place, I have been very active with the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth Am, volunteering my time as a youth coach and chaperone for leagues and serving as a delegation lead for national tournaments such as the Maccabi Games.

Please explain your understanding of the responsibilities of being a Board member of a non-profit organization.  

The responsibility of serving on a board for a non-profit organization is substantial and is one that I do not take slightly.  As a Board member, there is a responsibility to act in the best interest of the membership of the organization.  Furthermore, this responsibility must supersede any personal stake or interest in the issues governed.  As a non-profit organization, proper governance is essential to maintain the viability and financial health of the organization.  The Board has a large responsibility in providing oversight of all management and operations.  If this responsibility is not given proper attention, the organization has a large chance of failure.  

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 of the Board of Directors is to provide leadership that mirrors the needs of the membership.  Regardless of initiative, plan or policy, the Board must serve both an advisory and administrative role to provide the leadership to the staff to carry out the operations of the organization.  The most difficult responsibility facing Board members is future planning.  Board members have a short term, yet they must be able to plan, implement and follow through on longer term initiatives that will benefit the organization.   Board members must not lose sight of the primary function of the organization while making sure to keep the organization viable and thriving with the specter of looking at longer term initiatives that will take years to realize the benefits from.

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? 

The position of President is one that I take very seriously.  As the President, the primary function of the position is to provide leadership and to be a facilitator for the Board to function in its purpose serving the membership.  Above all, serving the membership is the primary function of the Association, and the position of President is the conduit from where that direction begins.  The President doesn’t perform this function alone, and the person serving in that capacity must be aware that the efforts of the Board, the committees, and volunteer groups are the engine that propels the entire organization forward.  I believe that I have the necessary leadership skills for this position.  These skills have been developed over a lifetime of different opportunities that have provided me with the necessary experience to effectively carry out the position of President.  As a Parks and Recreation Administrator since 2000, I have been part of leadership that has overseen multiple facilities, programs and services for a community that is renowned for its services, expectations and business models.  In addition to this work experience, I have served as a Lead Accreditation Visit Chair for several National Accreditation visits.  During these visits, I have had to lead a team through a process that involves tough decision-making, and instances where issues are confronted and overcome.  These different experiences give me the necessary skills:  the ability to build consensus on issues, the ability to provide direction and leadership support for initiatives or causes, operational leadership ability for carrying out functional objectives and goals, Business acumen to provide guidance of different financial models and decision making leadership in times of crisis or need.

What do you believe to be the greatest opportunity for revenue growth/development for the Association?  

Revenue Growth is an ever-fluctuating process that will see growth opportunities fluctuate dependent on outside factors such as overall national fiscal health, membership trends and general needs.  Recently, there was budgetary leeway for agencies to provide training dollars for its employees.  In some communities, the pandemic and its economic consequences has changed this dramatically.  For these communities, there needs to be a way to deliver on the Association’s core purpose and do so in a way that provides value but also develops revenue for the Association while counteracting the lower per person cost, with a potential rise in participant numbers.  One such way is more localized and virtual programming, allowing for lower per person costs that may bring in additional professionals.  Another possible way is to develop a library that is accessible for a fee for a myriad of training needs.  For the communities that still have these training dollars, the Association should continue to look at ways to provide exciting educational opportunities that have tangible benefits attached to the completion of the opportunities.  Classes, sessions and workshops that provide certifications, licenses, and/or completion milestones will not only generate interest for the membership, but it will also provide necessary justification for those leaders in charge of allotting those training dollars to spend them with the Association.  Providing these types of opportunities will still  prove advantageous if more communities feel the economic effects of the pandemic starting to necessitate a reduction in those training dollars. If the result of a training is a tangible designation that will add value to a member’s career, the member will be more likely to invest with personal dollars if that tangible benefit is apparent.

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?  

The identification of potential training opportunities is always a challenge.  Several sources can provide possible innovative program opportunities.  Looking outward at professional associations in other fields will provide many possibilities for training ideas.  The private sector corporations can also provide training opportunities.  Working with a company’s HR Department can bring insight into what training opportunities they find useful.  Lastly, National Organizations have training initiatives that also may be helpful.  Development and utilization strategy for these opportunities would first start in the planning phase with the Board and chosen committees.  Working through logistical issues and providing the finalized details with the assistance of partners will provide the ability to present the programs to the Membership.  Areas such as finances, volunteer assistance and facility provisions will all need to be finalized through this process.  Determining effectiveness of these programs will be measured through participation numbers, evaluation surveys and membership feedback on the opportunities provided

FRPA has adopted four pillars within its Strategic Plan – Health, Community Building, Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency, and Economic Impact/Development.  Please describe the significance of these pillars, and your experience with strategic planning and implementation.  

The four pillars are the framework of Parks and Recreation today.  Due to conditions in our daily lives today, these four pillars are what the profession is concentrated on.  Health is more of a focus than ever.  The pandemic has not only illuminated the need for hygiene and mindful behaviors, but it has also highlighted some of the direst health factors that affect us.  One of the chief contributing factors to serious covid cases is a factor that is a large focus today – obesity (a condition I personally have dealt with).  This condition is an epidemic and is setting up our future generations to struggle later in their lives.  The alarming fact that for the first-time future generations will have a shorter life expectancy than their ancestors cries out for action to be taken in form of food and exercise campaigns, education and overall lifestyle building.  In our City, I have helped lead a conscious effort to provide a health and wellness plan for both residents and our staff.  We have begun initiatives that include health programming, fitness events, embracing healthy lifestyle choices and even creating fitness infrastructure within our parks.  Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency is a pillar that is necessary due to the stark reality that our planet is suffering due to our actions.  It is a cause that I hold dear.  In Coral Gables, we have been at the forefront of sustainability – we have enacted several material initiatives – bans of Styrofoam, plastic bags, and plastic straws, worked with other Departments on initiatives to combat sea-level rise and started sustainable practices with water and energy conservation facility improvements.  Community Building is what we base our efforts on in our neighborhoods.  I strongly believe that if we have a united community, then everything is improved – our quality of life is better, our environment is better and even our interactions with each other are better.  The caveat is that this is not easily achieved.  Strategies that I have used in community building include a few basic tenets:  first - always be transparent in any effort , cause or project, second – listen to all feedback both positive and negative, third begin to build consensus through honest discussion and fourth produce a win-win result.  This approach works for projects, programs, disagreements and other issues in communities.  A change in the field of Parks and Recreation in the last decade has been the necessity to look at Economic Impact and Development.  This was something that I was trained to work on and carry out early in my career, but after the economic downturn in the late 2000’s, it became something that all agencies had to pay attention to moving forward.  The focus on Development is to try to build sustainable financial models.  We did this with the creation of cost analysis for programs and facilities, revenue generation and cost reduction.  Impact was always a hard thing to pin down and was reliant on more anecdotal information – the impact calculator will help with this effort greatly.  

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 Impact Calculator is an important piece for the profession and the industry.  I think the roll-out of the calculator has been effective and there has been a good campaign to create awareness of it.  I believe the next step and one that will be the most effective in having agencies use it will be creating awareness of its successes.  As agencies begin to use it and tell their story, there will be benefits in the form of budgetary increases, positive public sentiment and perhaps other big-ticket items such as referendums or building projects.  Getting these stories out to the membership in the form of public sessions, journal articles or testimonials at gatherings will start to propel the membership agencies into using this tool for their benefit.

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.  

 

Board members of FRPA are expected to commit 50 – 100 hours per year to Association work and activities.  Do you fundamentally have the time to serve on our Board?  

The time that must be spent in this position is a facet of this position that I have considered and respect greatly.  As a member of the State Board on various occasions, I am fully aware of the commitment needed and am willing to provide that commitment.  Fortunately, I have finally been able to construct a fully staffed team in my agency that is more than capable of carrying out the agency functions in my absence.  In addition, I have the full support of my City Management team to pursue this opportunity.

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.  

As an Agency Director in a community that prides itself on community input, I am greatly familiar with working with Board entities and Robert’s Rules of Order.  Currently, I oversee three different Advisory Boards within my community for different age groups and interests.  In addition, I served as the head of Boards in FRPA on the Region level and Interest Section level.  My preferred process for reaching consensus is similar to a process I use in community building.  The first step is to be transparent with the goals of the organization.  These goals are mapped out in the strategic plan and all actions should be in service of those goals.  Second, acknowledgement and understanding of all viewpoints is necessary and third the ability to work with group as an entity is imperative.  Personal opinions are a natural thing, but they can’t govern the greater overall cause. 

Describe your view of the role between the Association Board of Directors and the Association’s Executive Office.  

The Board of Directors sets up policies and initiatives on behalf of the membership.  The Executive Office is the engine that propels these initiatives and policies forward.  Both entities need to be cohesive  and work together.  In some ways it is like a relationship that occurs in most municipal structures.  The Elected officials help govern and set policy , while the City Management oversees the operations.  It is not completely the same because more efforts in operations and assistance from the Board are necessary, but the end goal in municipalities to serve the residents are in sync with the Goals of the Board and Office which are to serve the 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.  

Approximately ten years ago, I began work on a strategic initiative to improve Senior Recreational Services in our City.  What we found is that our City was greatly in need of providing recreational services for the 50+ age group.  Our City provided several wonderful options for younger people and families, but a needs assessment showed that most residents felt we lacked in adult programming.  Our strategic goal became to have a fully operational senior services recreational division with dedicated programming for that age group.  Our first step was to assess the issues, needs and wants of the senior population.  Working with the University of Miami, a needs assessment was done and a need for a senior center was a key finding.  Our next steps were to look at how a senior center operation would work.  Utilizing several partners including religious organizations, corporate sponsors, advisory boards and not profit groups, we were able to form a division with dedicated staff, funding and rental space for programming.  As the popularity of the space grew, we worked with our partners and were able to fund a dedicated space.  Utilizing an adult living facility partnership and using a retrofitted retail space in a parking garage for that adult living facility, The Coral Gables Adult Activity Center was opened in 2017.  Public reception has been great and one of the big successes in my professional life.  With this initiative completed, I continue to work on another strategic initiative involving the radical change in monitoring the service to our community that Parks and Recreation provides.  Radically changing our service level models to look at service radius area for parks and facilities instead of just concurrency numbers, we created a strategic action plan to have a park space for every resident within a 10-minute walk without having to cross any major roadways or waterways.  Using funding strategies, and partnering with the community, the program is a success with almost 90 percent of the City meeting this strategic initiative. 

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?   

Populating for Performance is a key ability in having a team at its optimal strength.  In order to do so, one must look what the strategic goals and objectives are and find the team members that will best help you meet those.  It is a process that any successful administrator undergoes.  A leader is only as good as the people that they lead, and the only control that a leader has is in the selection of that team.   The first step is to cast a wide net.  You must get out and speak to many different prospective team members and gauge what qualities a person can bring to a committee or a work group.  The second step is finding a diverse group that has different strengths and viewpoints.  The third and most integral step is to find a way to have them commit to the cause.  Team members will come aboard if they believe in the cause, and the role of the President is to provide that basis for belief.    

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?  

In terms of engaging the membership, every communication tool at our disposal should be utilized.  From email, newsletters, the journal, to e-connect and social media platforms, the Association should not leave any possible avenue under-utilized.  Whether it be messages for the board, updates on platforms, or status reports on goals and objectives, all these different avenues will find different audiences and will hit all the diverse member groups. The strategy towards analyzing needs is utilizing evaluation tools.  Surveys, suggestion forms and testimonials are all helpful.  In addition, analyzing these tools will help formulate a framework for an action plan for the future direction of the Association.  In addition to this, the strengths of the Board as and committees should be utilized for their perspectives through dialogue and workshopping.  The last tool would be the Abrahams Academy and Emerging Leaders groups.  These groups can be engaged to assist in seeing needs and helping shape an action plan that the Association will benefit from.