Rebecca Schnirman, Director, Financial & Support Services
Palm Beach County, Parks & Recreation Department
Rebecca Schnirman is the Director of the Financial and Support Services (FSS) Division for the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. The FSS Division provides payroll, budgeting, revenue, business development, customer service, point of sale, purchasing, and financial support for the Department. She has worked for Palm Beach County for 20 years, and has been in her current position for the past 12. She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Information Systems and MBA from Florida Atlantic University (Go Owls!). In 2016, she earned her CPRP. She is an active member of several organizations including GFOA, FGFOA, PBC FGFOA, NRPA, & FRPA. Rebecca served as President for PBC FGFOA from 2016-2017 and is currently an FGFOA Board Director. Rebecca is a 2016 Abrahams-Jones Academy graduate and is currently serving as FRPA’s Economic Impact Strategic Plan Group Chair.
Why do you want to serve FRPA as Vice President of Finance?
After graduating from the Abrahams-Jones Academy in 2016, I knew I wanted to find ways to give back to this fantastic organization. I am always looking for opportunities where I can make a difference, and I believe that I can help FRPA become better, faster, and stronger. I truly enjoy working with this organization and would be honored to serve in the office of Vice President of Finance.
What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a member of the FRPA Board of Directors?
I am awesome and the people love me. Just kidding…or am I? In all seriousness, I am always looking for opportunities to enhance my personal and professional growth by working in a leadership role in organizations where I think I can make a difference. As a current Board Director for FGFOA, I believe I have the skillset necessary to work with a diverse group of individuals (especially diverse personalities) work together for a common goal. As a former graduate of the Abrahams-Jones Academy (2016) I am really interested in doing whatever I can to help move this organization forward. I was so grateful to have attended the FRPA Annual Retreat and would love to help accomplish some of the items that were brought up to the current board. I appreciate your consideration of my application.
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 use several resources including the NRPA Connect Forum, FRPA Connect Forum, Parks & Recreation Magazines, newspaper articles, continuing education training, social media, and personal contacts with other Parks & Recreation Agencies to keep up with current and future trends. I also review park surveys, internal and external performance measures, and look economic trends to gain insight. Of all of these resources, I think the best place to gain insight is with our park peers. If one agency is having an issue with something and we all find out that we are experiencing the same thing, then you know that is going to be a challenge that we as a profession can to address together.
Detail your involvement with FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.
Over the past 3-5 years, I have been involved with FRPA’s Economic Impact Strategic Plan Workgroup and am Chair of this workgroup for the 2022-2023 term. Additionally, I have taught Finance, Budget, and Internal Control related courses at the FRPA conference and Abrahams-Jones Academy (2016 graduate). More recently, I was given the opportunity to attend the FRPA annual retreat and provide input on the direction of the association. In the past, I have been a member of the Membership Committee and the Training & Education Committee.
Detail your leadership involvement with Associations/Community or Civic Organizations outside of FRPA over the past 3 – 5 years.
I am extremely active in the Florida Government Finance Officers Association (FGFOA) and am currently a Board Director. In my roles as FGFOA Board Director, I am the liaison for the Professional Development Committee. This committee is responsible for the Mentor/Mentee program; Leadership Program; membership recruitment & retention; and lifetime member engagement. Prior to being a Board Director, I was the Committee Chair for the Educational Programs Committee for several years. Additionally, I have been a speaker at the FGFOA annual conference and their School of Government Finance.
I am also active in the Palm Beach Chapter FGFOA. I am a past president of this organization and am currently the Education Committee Chair.Please explain your understanding of the responsibilities of being a Board member of a non-profit organization.
In my personal experience, being a Board member means that you are working in your assigned role to support the mission, vision, and goals of the organization. A board member of any organization needs to be able to work well with others and put the needs of the organization above their own. They also should be forward thinking and open to implementing new ideas.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 is to move forward the profession of Parks & Recreation professionals while keeping in line with the mission, vision, and goals of the association. One of the most difficult responsibilities as a board member is to remember that you are serving the members of the association first and that what may work for the board may not be in the best interest for the membership. Keeping the members in mind when making decisions is critical.
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?
For Vice President, I envision the primary function is to ensure that the association moves forward in the right direction and carrying out whatever vision that the current president would like for me as a board member to implement. A far as experience, I believe that my Postion as Past President for the PBC FGFOA and current position
For Vice President Finance I envision the primary function of the position is to provide fiscal oversight to the association by ensuring proper internal controls and financial polices are followed. For the past 19 years, I have been working in a fiscal position with Palm Beach County. I have been in my current position, Division Director II over the Financial & Support Services Division, for the past 11 years. In my current position, I direct and coordinate the activities of 27 employees in the Financial & Support Services Division of the Parks and Recreation Department. The sections I manage include payroll, budget development, procurement, business development, revenue, capital, contracts & financial support, customer service, and IT support. What do you believe to be the greatest opportunity for revenue growth/development for the Association?
Membership fees, the annual conference, and the various institutes are most likely the primary revenue generating sources for the association. Partnerships with industry professionals to “sponsor” programs or to continue to sell space to them at various events in addition to the fees charged to the members to attend the events is a great revenue opportunity. In order to continue to grow as an association, membership recruitment, and retention is key. If membership fees and professional development fees aren’t enough to cover operating expenses then an annual professional development support request from the FRPA Foundation may be necessary to supplement some of the most valuable programs such as Abrahams-Jones Academy.
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 would look at the CPRP and CPRE exam requirements and focus some of the training efforts on what would help the members obtain this certification. Additionally, I would survey the members to see what training they would like offered. Also, surveying members after attending existing educational opportunities is a great tool that should continue to be used. There are different ways to approach education sessions. One approach is to ask the members to submit topics that they are interested in teaching and then have a selection committee review the submittals and make selections. Another is to have a committee that specifically works on developing educational opportunities for the members at the beginning of the term and programs them out for the entire year (including finding speakers, securing locations, getting a list of topics). As far as implementation, I would continue to offer a mix of in-person and webinar based trainings to make sure you can reach as many members as possible. Not all members can attend in-person meetings.
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
-Parks and Recreation agencies play a significant role in preventing health related illnesses and have been proven to assist with mental wellness. I have personally found that the peaceful tranquility of a park outing with two toddlers has greatly assisted with my mental well being in addition to providing a safe place for my children to recreate. Community Building
- As affordable housing is at the forefront of the Florida economy, it is now more important than ever to ensure that parks are a part of that conversation. Newer communities are being built with increased density and less green space, so having a neighborhood park or a park within in walking distance where they can gather and recreate is even more important. Parks create a safe space for communities to come together and feel like they are a part of something greater. A green market, concert, youth sports event, or other park activity can give park patrons a feeling of belonging to a community.Environmental Sustainability and Resiliency
-With tourism being one of Florida’s top economic drivers it is extremely important to focus on environmental sustainability and resiliency. With rising sea levels, beach erosion, plastic pollution and other impacts to our environment, it is important that Parks & Recreation agencies be leaders in this pillar.Economic Impact/Development
- Economic impact and development is an important part of the Florida economy since we are a tourism-focused economy. Local tourism agencies such as sports commissions, cultural councils, and tourist development agencies use parks to target tourists and business. It has been proven that parks increase property values (FRPA Impact Calculator) and bring business to areas, which in turn increase local government revenues through increased property taxes, sales tax, tourist development tax, etc. This is an extremely important pillar and the way to ensure that parks remain relevant in the eyes of our government leaders.
In regards to my experience with strategic planning and implementation, throughout my 19 years of service to Palm Beach County I have been directly involved with drafting and implementing several strategic plans including the one currently be utilized by the Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Department. I have led and implemented several strategic planning initiatives including objectives associated with improving existing processes and updating point of sale technology.
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.
Currently the Economic Impact/Development committee is working on ways to promote the usage of the FRPA Impact Calculator including creating best practices for data entry, examples of usage, and standards for methodology used to enter the user generated data. We are also looking to poll the users to see if there are any areas of the calculator that should be enhanced or if there are new calculations that need to be incorporated such as how to quantify how parks reduce changes of incarceration or criminal activity.
Telling the story of parks and recreation in the state of Florida is why FRPA exists. I would think this is why most of the members join this association in addition to NRPA. It’s also important to tell the story to external audiences (such as administration, commissioners, and finance professionals) so that they can understand the benefits of parks and recreation be reminded during budget that Parks are just as critical as Public Safety organizations.
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.
I am supportive of DEI efforts and as someone who has personally faced antisemitism I find it very disheartening that people are still discriminated against because of another person’s misconceptions. Regardless of our sexual orientation, gender identify, race, or religion everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. In regards to engaging diverse communities, it can be helpful to have someone who is active or a leader in the community that you are trying to engage to reach out to them to participate.
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
To what extent are you involved in the budgeting process either at your agency or with a non-profit? Please include your experience with financial analysis and long term financial forecasting and planning.
For the past 11+ years I have directed and coordinated the activities of the Financial and Support Services Division of the Parks and Recreation Department (a staff of 27) which includes: financial management; revenue; payroll; purchasing; business development; fixed assets; customer service, permits and pavilion rentals; point of sale support; capital management; and contracts. I am responsible for managing and coordinating the preparation and development of the department’s $95.5M operating budget, $28M revenue budget, and $40.4M capital budget. This include financial forecasting for both revenues and expenses, preparing the 5 year Capital Improvement Plan, and reviewing and analyzing supplemental budget requests.
Please share any skills that you have in the areas of Budget and Finance that would enhance your service to FRPA as the Vice President of Finance.
All of my 19 years working with Palm Beach County have been in a fiscal role. I believe I have all the skills needed to perform this position.
If you were asked the following question by an Association member, how would you respond – Where do my membership dues and conference registration fees go, and why should I continue to invest this with FRPA?
The Association supplements many program offerings and as such is able to use the revenue generated from membership and conference registration to buy down your hotel room rates and make the fees for the extra educational sessions offered year round and a reasonable rate for your organization. Additionally, your fees help to fund the Abrahams-Jones Academy, Emerging Leaders, and Parks institute. Your membership also gives you access to the Parks Impact Calculator, which enables park professionals to show the true economic impact of parks and recreation using research verified data. Finally, the fellowship and resources that this organization provides is invaluable.