CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT-ELECT

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.  Prior to his employment with the City of Coral Gables, Fred served as Assistant Sports Information Director for Miami-Dade Community College, Kendall.  He also served with The Atlanta Braves as a Public Relations Assistant and with the Florida Marlins as a Media Relations Assistant.  Fred received his Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Florida International University in 1992. In 1996, he received his Master’s in Science degree in Sports Administration from St. Thomas University.  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 is a profession I love. I have a passion for what we do and for the wonderful experiences that we provide.  I feel that the mission of our profession is a valuable one that must continue to be allowed to grow.  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 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?

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.    

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 recently released the FRPA Impact Calculator.  Please describe how you would actively promote the use of the Calculator, and the importance of telling the story of parks and recreation to the FRPA membership.  

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. Having Association representatives speak to local groups like the session I was present for in Miami-Dade County is extremely helpful. 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.

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.   

Charlotte Presensky, CPRE
Leisure Services Administrator
Palm Beach Gardens Recreation
All response items below have been submitted and communicated exactly as they were written by the nominee. 

Charlotte Presensky, member of FRPA, NRPA, and FCCMA, is a true believer in public service and the impact that Parks & Recreation services can have on a community. Throughout her career, Charlotte has held many positions in this field, ranging from entry level to Director, and has had the honor of working with communities all over to provide programs, parks, and facilities that benefit individuals and families. As an advocate for the profession, Charlotte believes in helping staff and other professionals grow their skills and knowledge in the field. She has contributed to the FRPA Journal and has presented educational sessions through FRPA. Charlotte has stated many times that she “owes her career to those she met through FRPA” and wants to continue that legacy through continuing her service as FRPA President.  

Native of Michigan, Charlotte graduated from Central Michigan University with a B.A. in Commercial Recreation and Facility Management and a minor in Business Administration. She continued her educational platform by receiving a Public Administration degree from Nova Southeastern University. Charlotte is a Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE) after being a CPRP for most of her career. In 2006, Charlotte was recognized by the NRPA Citizen Branch with the “Professional Excellence Award” for her work with volunteer boards. Charlotte currently serves as the FRPA Vice President of Finance and is the board liaison to the Economic Impact and Development, and Environmental Pillar committees.

When not working, Charlotte loves to vacation and spending the football season watching her two favorite teams, the Michigan Wolverines, and the Green Bay Packers!

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

I am seeking the President position for simple, but deeply held personal reasons. First, I believe the impact that our profession has on communities is great and that story needs to be told. Second, to focus on the membership to further individual careers though making opportunities happen for EVERONE through the Association and its programs. Finally, pledging the energy necessary to continue building the stability of the Association and to be a champion for the Recreation and Park Profession.

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?

I start my day with reading from sources like NRPA and FRPA, multiple SmartBrief newsletters, FCCMA’s CM’s, and Florida’s Sayfie Morning Review. I also take the time to educate myself on the broader public administration topics of our City and other local municipalities. I feel that education and knowledge expansion is a necessary part of being a leader.

In my application for Vice President of Finance, I stated that gaining insight on what lies ahead means to keep eyes wide open, pay attention to clues, and not to become complacent in the successes of the past. I believe this still holds true. Un-heard-of challenges have become the norm. Success in meeting those challenges is to provide steady leadership and make decisions with thoughtfulness. It’s interesting to consider that our profession stays the same and evolves.

-Our core programming is steady, but our community support activities, such as food distribution, has intensified.
-We continue to keep our youth and seniors active, while being trained to recognize mental health issues.
-We operate major facilities for sport but know how to turn those areas into emergency shelters within hours.


So, to answer the question “where do you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years”, I would say:

-analyze the past, and be better;
-watch the change in your community, and alter your service;
-and finally, keep communication lines open with fellow professionals and listen to what they have to say.


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

Although redundant, I feel the responses I provided on my application for Vice President of Finance still apply with some edits:

Concept #1:

Fiscal sustainability is not just a revenue stream. It is a comprehensive coordinated effort to leverage the credibility of an organization into sustainable membership, partner collaboration, and funding possibilities. This is a circular reliance that must be cultivated. Budgets of our agencies and partners could be diminishing and that will directly affect the Association. To me, the largest growth opportunity is to raise the value of membership for professionals while raising the intrinsic benefit partners cultivate from their relationships with the membership. Would a targeted branding initiative centered on “membership value = partner value” produce sustainable outcomes?

Concept #2:

Of concern is declining budgets for agencies. That most certainly will affect membership and/or educational session attendance. Are we able to identify barriers to membership and/or develop innovative ways to open membership to more of those who work and study in the field?

As an addition to this original concept, I feel it’s imperative for the Association to self-analyze if and why some segments of the membership feel excluded from the support and benefits of the Association. Every effort and change should be made to ensure all parks and recreation professional feel they can have a seat at the “table” in the association.

Concept #3:

Collaborate with partners to provide “excellence in learning” virtually. Not all programs have to be offered directly by FRPA. Is there a way to partner with other organizations to share e-learning and the revenue? If taken one step further, is it possible for the Association to assume smaller organizations of similar interest? Are there revenue possibilities?

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? 

I continue to believe that adding a Strategic Plan Pillar for Professional Development would demonstrate a commitment to the members for their professional development. Through this effort we could assess on an annual basis the effectiveness of education and professional development.

The current committees and the State office are doing outstanding work planning trainings. It is evident that the State office needs an additional staff member to expand training opportunities (among other things)  for the membership.

Finally, I think there would be benefit in looking at a comprehensive long term membership survey strategy. Again, what is currently be surveyed by the committees and State office is beneficial. Comprehensive can be defined as a three-year regular, in-depth, survey of the membership to provide the insight necessary to strategically plan forward. I propose that  a consultant be contracted with to develop, collect, and digest the data from either the whole membership, or a statistically relevant sample. It would be a new cost but would be an effective way to gain a base line for future results to be compared to.

FRPA recently released the FRPA Impact Calculator.  Please describe how you would actively promote the use of the calculator, and the importance of telling the story of parks and recreation to the FRPA membership.  

My reason for volunteering for the Economic Impact and Development Pillar Committee is that I believe the value that our profession brings to a community has to be articulated in a language that decision makers understand. The calculator can provide the base to articulate that value through verifiable data. Data increases credibility. Taking a step further, we know that elected officials and city/county managers communicate with each other about their agencies. If the message about the value of Parks & Recreation is being delivered in a similar manner within a geographical area, credibility on a global level rises. That benefits all!

Important is commitment  from Agency Directors to use the tool. Through a few examples, we can demonstrate how data from the calculator tells a story, members might be encouraged to use it. Another avenue to promote its use is for those agencies that produce an Annual Report. A convincing argument could be made to include the calculator data in some format. For consideration, and to further the development of the calculator, would a joint conference, where Parks and Recreation Professionals and those who promote economic development in communities, gather to discuss the community impact of our profession.


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? 

This is an area of focus I would undertake if elected. When I hear stories about people thinking they do not belong in the “room” or at the “table”, my motivation to change this dynamic grows. I have been one of those people that had been judged by others before they understood my capabilities.

Engagement begins when people know they are valued and that their prospective matters. My goal would be to create opportunities for “conversation starters” to spark substantive communication with association members, especially those who might feel on the outside of the circle. Listening and sharing experiences will create the platform to grow change and further the professional development of those choose our field. My goal is simple, support ALL of those in our association to HELP them further their career.