Parks & Recreation, the monthly magazine of the National Recreation & Park Association in Ashburn, Virginia. NRPA has 50,000 members and is dedicated to advancing parks, recreation, and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.
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Gina Mullins-Cohen joined NRPA in March 2013 and serves as vice president of marketing, communications and publications. Mullins-Cohen brings with her more than 17 years of communication and publication management experience. She has launched and managed numerous publications in several diverse industries, as well as owned and directed a media-communications firm. As founder of Eclipse Media Partners LLC, she was able to work with and report on the achievements within park systems in Southern California. Prior to Eclipse Media Partners, Mullins-Cohen held the post of executive vice president of Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), where she oversaw the communications, publishing and education divisions. Her consumer publication, Edible Orange County, was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Publication in 2011. Her work in B2B publishing and communications has been the recipient of four Maggie Awards from the Western Publishing Association. Mullins-Cohen lives in Lansdowne, Virginia.
Dana Storm, senior manager of advertising sales, joined the Parks & Recreation magazine staff in June 2013. Her most recent stints include advertising manager for a weekly newspaper in Fairfax County and director of account services for a local branding firm. Storm currently manages print advertising and digital sales for NRPA’s magazine, website, monthly newsletter, Field Guide and weekly email service. She graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in elementary education and currently resides in Berryville, Virginia.
Samantha Bartram, executive editor, joined the magazine staff in December 2013 following a seven-year stint in the local newspaper industry as a senior writer with Northern Virginia Media Services. Bartram’s work focuses on several areas of the magazine, including writing, editing, design and web. In addition to her work at Parks & Recreation magazine, Bartram works as a freelance writer for Vetstreet.com. She holds a B.A. in musical theater from Wittenberg University and lives in Leesburg, Virginia.
Sonia Myrick, managing editor, joined the magazine staff in June 2015 following an eight-year stint as the senior editor and writer for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Myrick’s work on the magazine includes editing, writing and managing production. In addition to her work at Parks & Recreation magazine, Myrick is a freelance editor. She holds a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College and lives with her husband, son and daughter in Reston, Virginia.
If you are interested in having Parks & Recreation feature one of your company's products, please send a hi-res image and description of no more than 100 words to Samantha Bartram at NRPA.
Parks & Recreation Magazine Advisory Board
Parks & Recreation magazine regularly works with our Advisory Board — an expansive, nationwide alliance that includes high-level entrepreneurs, park and recreation professionals, architects and academics — to make each issue as thoughtful, informative and useful for NRPA members as possible. These partners lend their time, voice and insights to keep Parks & Recreation at the cutting edge of news and trends affecting our industry. Below, meet the members.
Director, Portland, Oregon, Parks & Recreation
Mike Abbaté is a landscape architect with 30 years of experience in the planning and design of outstanding public parks and recreational facilities, including Portland's Tanner Springs Park and Hood River's Waterfront Park. He has been the director of Portland Parks & Recreation since 2011, where he leads a bureau with more than 3,000 permanent and seasonal employees and an annual budget of approximately $100 million. Abbaté has a career that spans both the public and private sectors. In 1997, Abbaté co-founded GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture and environmental design consulting firm, recognized for its sustainable design philosophy. In addition to being a registered Landscape Architect in Oregon, he is certified nationally through the Council of Landscape Architects Registration Board, and is a LEED™ Accredited Professional. He is also a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and served for six years on an Advisory Board for the University of Oregon. Abbaté was inducted into ASLA’s Council of Fellows in 2013.
Director, Washington D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation
Keith Anderson is the Director for the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation. In January 2015, he was appointed Interim, and then Acting Director, by Mayor Muriel Bowser. Anderson was confirmed by the D.C. City Council in July 2015. Prior to DPR, Anderson held the title of Director at the District’s Department of the Environment (DDOE). As DDOE’s Director, Anderson established the world’s first Stormwater Retention Credit trading program and lead the effort to make D.C. the third most sustainable city in the United States. With more than 12 years of public service experience in the District, Anderson has served as DDOE's Director, Interim Director, Deputy Director and Chief of Staff.
Director, City of Sunset Hills Parks and Recreation Department, Sunset Hills Community Center
Gerald Brown has served as director of the Sunset Hills Parks and Recreation Department for more than 12 years. Prior to working for Sunset Hills, Brown worked for the city of Olivette where he served six years, the first one and a half as recreation supervisor and the remainder as director of parks and recreation. In school, Brown was a top athlete, playing soccer at Lindenwood University and St. Louis Community College at Forest Park before playing his final two seasons at Southwest Missouri State University. Brown graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a degree in parks and recreation, with a minor in coaching.
Director, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks
Ernest W. Burkeen Jr. headed the recreation and parks department of three major cities — Detroit, Fort Lauderdale and Miami — before traveling 3,000 miles to “Charm City” to take the helm of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks in 2012. Burkeen spent a decade teaching upcoming administrative professionals parks and recreation administration and contemporary issues in recreation courses as an adjunct at Eastern Michigan University. As a Navy man, Burkeen has high levels of expectation from his staff, but also likes to keep the agency lively. As a transformational leader, Burkeen has worked on revamping the department from the inside, out.
Chief Communications Officer, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks
Gwendolyn Chambers took over the reigns as chief of communications for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks in 2014. Chambers, who has been with the agency for more than six years, previously manned all communications with the media as the agency’s public information officer. Chambers has worked to move the agency from relying on traditional media outlets to a “digital newsroom,” where the agency works to disseminate information to the public and tell stories about the children, youth and adults who swim at Baltimore City pools, run on its trails and use its recreation centers.
Director of Strategy and Sustainability, Chicago Park District
Brendan Daley is the director of strategy and sustainability for the Chicago Park District. Daley ensures that the Park District’s programs and projects align with the strategic plan and that the goals and values within the plan stay relevant and are periodically reviewed and updated. Prior to working at the Park District, Brendan worked for 10 years at the Chicago Department of Environment, most recently as a deputy commissioner overseeing the Energy and Air Quality Division. Brendan earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Roosevelt University and an LLB from Queen’s University, Belfast. He is a LEED-accredited professional with the U.S. Green Building Council and a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional through NRPA.
Nature-Based Programs Coordinator, Lorraine "Grandma" Camacho Activity Center
Ryan Eaker is the nature-based programs coordinator and acting supervisor of Austin Parks and Recreation’s Camacho Activity Center. Eaker has developed and led outdoor adventure, environmental education and arts programming for youth, teens, families and senior citizens for more than 13 years. Eaker holds a variety of outdoor industry guide and instructor-level certifications and a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Assistant Professor, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department, Clemson University
Dr. Mariela Fernandez is an Assistant Professor at Clemson University. She has several years of experience conducting research pertaining to Latino communities. Her Master’s thesis focused on the programmatic aspects hindering Latino participation at a public recreation center, and her dissertation focused on how the nonprofit sector can be mobilized to increase access to open green space in an urban Latino community (Little Village) in Chicago. Dr. Fernandez’s future research will focus on the growing Latino population in South Carolina with keen interest to this population’s access to open green space and the potential impacts on their health and well-being.
Executive Director, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority
Paul Gilbert is the executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks, formerly known as NVRPA), a multijurisdictional park agency with an annual operating and capital budget of almost $30 million. In his role, Gilbert implemented a number of entrepreneurial practices that grew his agency’s enterprise revenue more than 75 percent between 2005-2014. He is an adjunct professor at George Mason University and is also the author of two books and numerous articles. In his spare time, Gilbert serves as a volunteer on the boards or in leadership roles of several organizations in his area of expertise.
Director, Pico Rivera Parks and Recreation Department
Sandra J. Gonzalez, FASLA, is the director of parks and recreation for the city of Pico Rivera, California. Gonzalez received her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and her master’s degree in public policy and administration from Cal State University, Long Beach. In 1994, she was appointed by the governor of California to the State Board of Landscape Architects, where she served for more than 10 years. She subsequently served as president for the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). Gonzalez has worked in the public sector for more than 24 years and is committed to public service. She also holds licenses to practice landscape architecture in California and Arizona.
Chief Marketing Officer, Playworld
Greg Harrison is the chief marketing officer for Playworld Systems Inc., where he develops and executes integrated marketing and communications programs. Harrison leads strategic planning, concept development and implementation for the company’s various product launches and campaigns. A father of two teenage boys, Harrison knows all about the importance of balancing unstructured free play with scheduled activities.
Executive Director, Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society
Tim Herd, CPRE, is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society. His professional experience encompasses community, commercial, outdoor and therapeutic recreation; environmental education; parks, trails, greenways and open-space management; and executive leadership in governmental, nonprofit and corporate settings. Herd is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, and the author of several books and countless published articles, features and serial columns on leadership development, the benefits of parks and connecting to nature.
CEO/Founder of Grow Green Industries Inc.
Mareya Ibrahim, also known as “The Fit Foodie,” is a nationally recognized food safety and clean eating expert, award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author and inventor. She is the CEO and founder of Grow Green Industries, INC. and the patented co-creator of the eatCleaner®, eatSafe™ and eatFresh™ line of all natural and organic products that help offer cleaner, safer, longer-lasting produce. Her book, “The Clean Eating Handbook,” was released in May 2013. She is a contributor to “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman. She is a featured chef on the Emmy-nominated cooking show Recipe Rehab, eHow.com, Livestrong.com and is a frequent guest on San Diego 6 and Fox 5 San Diego News. Her back-page column, “The Fit Foodie”, appears in Edible Orange County Magazine.
Director of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, Soofa
Edward Krafcik is the director of strategic partnerships and business development at Soofa, a startup out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab. Soofa makes smart urban furniture and provides technology solutions for 21st century parks and cities. Soofa’s flagship product, the Soofa Bench, is a solar powered park bench that powers phones and senses the environment. An MBA and former landscape architect, Krafcik brings a unique perspective to park and public open space design and management.
Todd Lehman, owner, executive creative director and “design guy” behind Cre8Play, has been designing unique play environment for more than 20 years. After many years in the traditional post and platform playground industry, Lehman started Cre8Play in 2005 to meet a growing demand for custom play environments. He has spent his entire career building a company that embraces creativity and breaks the mold of traditional playground manufacturers.
CEO, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness
As founder and CEO of Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, Sam Mendelsohn has increased the role parks play in bolstering community wellness. With his 25 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience, Mendelsohn has been a pioneer in the push for greater inclusivity in outdoor fitness environments.
Chief of Planning and Design Excellence, Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation
Maria Nardi serves as the Assistant Director of Planning and Design Excellence for Miami Dade County Parks. Her work includes the role of parks and public spaces in shaping cities; the emerging evidence based science of health and the built environment; and the creation of equitable communities through greater access to parks and public spaces. Prior to her work at Miami Dade County, Nardi was Chief of Urban Design for the City of Miami. Nardi has been recognized for her work, including the International Progressive Architecture Urban Design Award, the University of Miami Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Architecture Profession and the Harvard Honor Award for Excellence in the Study of Landscape Architecture.
Founder and Chair of the Board, 8 80 Cities; Chair of the Board, World Urban Parks
Gil Peñalosa is passionate about cities for all people. He advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of social, economic or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, cycling and public transit. Peñalosa is the founder and chair of the board of the internationally recognized nonprofit organization 8 80 Cities. Peñalosa also runs his own international consulting firm, Gil Peñalosa & Associates, and is an accomplished presenter and keynote speaker.
Dr. Kevin Riley
Professor of Parks and Recreation, Henderson State University
Dr. Kevin Riley is an assistant professor of recreation at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. During his 12 years as a college professor he has taught more than 20 different recreation courses. Currently, natural resource management is his main emphasis. His research includes recreational art, recreation and technologies. His work has been published in NRPA’s Parks & Recreation magazine and its journals. Riley has also delivered several presentations at NRPA’s Annual Conference.
Sr. Marketing Manager, The Toro Company
Paula Sliefert joined The Toro Company in 2007 and currently serves as senior marketing manager in the company’s commercial business. In her role, she has responsibility for supporting a number of Toro’s key industry relationships, as well as helping to develop and implement strategies targeted at growing the sportsfields and grounds market segments, which represent professional and collegiate sports, educational institutions and government including federal, state and local entities. Additionally, Sliefert serves as an authorized negotiator to the General Services Administration for The Toro Company.
Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Communications, PlayCore
Anne-Marie Spencer is the corporate vice president of marketing for PlayCore in Chattanooga Tennessee, and works within the company's Center for Professional Development. Throughout her career, she has written 23 books and more than 150 articles. She also serves on the board of directors for the Chambliss Children's Center in Chattanooga, and enjoys working out and advocating for play and recreation.
Sr. Principal, Brinkley, Sargent, Wiginton Architects
Stephen Springs’ 19-plus years of award-winning recreation design work has often been recognized in print, along with several articles about designing quality-of-life projects. He has been an advocate for parks and recreation as a municipal parks commissioner, a city plan commissioner, and by walking the halls at the state legislature. Springs has also been an educational speaker at various conferences, and is slated to speak at the upcoming NRPA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Parks Commons Program Coordinator, Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation
Since 2010, Randy Wiger has led Seattle’s Department of Parks and Recreation in engaging LGBTQ teens and youth. From one-time events to week-long camps, his successes draw on many resources and partners, and his 25 years of community organizing, event planning and programming expertise. He is the recipient of a 2012 Washington State Recreation and Parks Association (WRPA) Spotlight Award for Cultural Competency and the 2011 GLSEN Community Partner award (Gay Lesbian Straight Educator Network). In his personal life he came out in 1984 and has been an activist for LGBTQ issues including lobbying city councils, school boards and state university boards to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.