Park Development Officer, City of Long Beach, CA
So far, what’s your proudest accomplishment in 2019?
I seek meaningful work that allows me to leave a place better than I found it – “plant trees under who’s shade I do not expect to sit” – and I have found that calling in local government working with parks, open space, and authentic/inclusive community engagement. In 2019, I am most proud of leading my Department’s effort to update our Strategic Plan. The 15-year-old plan from 2003 is in desperate need of updating, and my small staff team and I get to develop a community and staff process that is inclusive and equitable, designed to include language access to reach those that have been historically left out of the process. This is informed by my current participation on a cohort involved in racial equity training produced by the Local & Regional Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). Our Strategic Plan update process also builds in an annual evaluation by staff and the community to monitor progress, and includes an annual community summit to hold us accountable, elements that were not included in the 2003 Plan but are important to develop momentum and move the Department forward.
Valentines Day is in February. What do you “love” about your job?
I love that my job allows for innovation & creativity. Whether its working with a community to design a whimsical playground theme that represents the look of their neighborhood, using a color run to structure a community engagement workshop, or organizing a tricycle race with the City Manager and Councilmembers to promote our bike programs, I get to use right-brain skills in addition to the analytical and technical components of my job. This is meaningful because these creative approaches more fully engage members of my community and they provide a memorable experience for those who participate.
(Complete the sentence) Before I die I want to…
Before I die I want to visit as many National & State parks as possible and take great photographs of their beauty.
10 Year Challenge! What were you doing in 2009? How did it help you reach your current position?
The City of Long Beach had created the Office of Sustainability in 2008 to develop and implement model sustainability programs for the City of Long Beach and I was selected as my City’s first Sustainability Coordinator. As the City’s Sustainability Coordinator, in 2009 I was facilitating the Sustainable City Commission leading the process to produce the City’s first Sustainable City Action Plan, drafting the City’s first sustainability policies including green purchasing, green building, low impact development, and water efficient landscaping, and writing grants for the City’s green programs. In this role, I had to collaborate with my colleagues across 20 different City Departments, learning about how sustainability affected their operations and gained a vast understanding of municipal operations I would otherwise not have had access to. I also build foundational skills related to grants, including program development, project budgeting, organizational implementation and grant writing. Since 2009, I’ve used these transferable skills to demonstrate my value by bringing in millions of dollars in regional, state and federal grants that supplement local funding and provide services that otherwise would be unavailable. My 2009 experience gave me a mindset for identifying how to build programs that could be easily implemented by starting with the desired outcome and working backward into program development. I continue to be a member of my organization that is known for understanding how to make things work. I’ve been able to parlay these important aspects of my 2009 experience into my work in parks, open space and community engagement.
(Complete the sentence) The first time I heard about ELGL was…
The first time I heard about ELGL was when I came across their social media accounts. ELGL appeared to represent like-minded individuals from across local government functions and I thought this would be a great opportunity to expand my ‘coalition of the willing’ network!
What question should we have asked? What’s the answer?
What is on rotation in your soundtrack? Music is a big part of my daily life – it can set the mood, create an atmosphere, and be motivating. Bob Dylan is my favorite songwriter, I am often inspired by modern day Americana songs/bands, and I gravitate toward musical stylings that harken from the blues. If you haven’t seen the musical documentary American Epic about the history of American music on PBS, you’re missing out on something amazing. A few songs that timelessly inspire me – either in tempo, melody, and lyric – include Oh Sing by The Native Sibling, Joyful Girl by Soulive, Save Your Scissors by City & Colour, Diamonds by Johnnyswim, Heartbreak Dreamer by Mat Kearney, and How To Be Righteous by Lori McKenna. You can find me regularly on Spotify, playing at home and in my office, and I’d love to be introduced to new sounds from other ELGL members!