Leadership Bios

Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

Leon AndrewsLeon T. Andrews, Jr. serves as a Director of Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) at the National League of Cities’ Institute. Previously he was a Senior Fellow at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, where he led all of the Institute’s youth development work with mayors and other municipal leaders around the country including in areas related to childhood obesity, disconnected youth, youth engagement and leadership, and youth master planning since 2006.

Before joining the National League of Cities, Leon completed a research fellowship at The Forum for Youth Investment. Leon has an extensive background working in government, the community, the private sector, and academia for the last 20 years including the United States Department of Justice, United States Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, the United States Public Interest Research Group, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, YouthBuild Pittsburgh, the Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and as an adjunct professor in the Department of Political Science at Eastern Michigan University. He is a published author, a presenter at a number of conferences and other forums throughout the country, and serves on a number of national and local boards.

He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Howard University, a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and is a PhD candidate in the Urban and Regional Planning program at The University of Michigan. Leon is married to an amazing woman, Dr. Kristine M. Andrews, for the last eleven years and they have three beautiful daughters – Jessica Austin, Julia Iris, and Joanna Jonas.

Rebecca A. Benná, CPRP

Rebecca BennaBecky Benná is the Executive Director of Five Rivers MetroParks, which is a Park District serving Montgomery County in southwestern Ohio.

Prior to her current position, she was the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Glendale, Arizona and Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Miamisburg, Ohio. She lead both departments in achieving 100% compliance in obtaining National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Agency Accreditation. Rebecca is active in various professional organizations. She currently serves on the NRPA Board of Directors, and she served on the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies, as well as held other leadership positions in local and state organizations in Ohio and Arizona. Becky is also a member of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.

Neelay Bhatt

Neelay BhattNeelay’s career has spanned three continents with experiences including the Super Bowl, Disney, the Summer Olympics, and Paralympics Games, besides several years of consulting and training. His educational background includes a Masters in Sports Administration and Facility Management, an MBA, and a Masters in Advertising and Public Relations.

As a speaker and trainer, nationally and internationally, he has been fortunate to learn from and teach students, professionals, and executives from China, India, and all over the United States.

In addition, as the Vice President at PROS Consulting, he has served as project manager / lead consultant on over 100 master planning, strategic planning, sports facility development, marketing, and branding projects over several years. These projects have recommended facility infrastructure improvement and development totaling over $3 billion USD, and are helping to shape a better vision for parks, recreation, and athletics in cities all over the world.

From Anchorage, Alaska to Allentown, Pennsylvania and from Charlotte to China, his approach focuses on innovating and partnering to maximize revenue generation and create a guest experience of the highest quality.

Neelay currently serves as the Treasurer for the NRPA Board of Directors.

He is an avid martial arts and tennis fan and shares a passion for the Olympic Games and ideals. More importantly, if you know anything about cricket, you are his new best friend!

Neelay is married and has a son who he hopes will grow up to know that true friends are not made on a computer but in a park, playground or a sports field.

Kevin Coyle

Kevin CoyleKevin Coyle has committed thirty-five years to improving America’s education and environmental education fields. He has been with the National Wildlife Federation as vice president for education since 2005.

Prior to NWF, he was president of the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF), an award-winning organization chartered by Congress to strengthen U.S. environmental learning for personal stewardship, science education, improved health care, business management, watershed management and natural resource management. He has also led and founded several other educational and environmental organizations, including River Network, Inc. (Washington, DC and Portland), American Rivers, and the American Land Resource Association.

Coyle is trustee and past chair of The Potomac Conservancy, trustee of The Alice Ferguson Foundation, and has served two terms as chairman of The Natural Resources Council of America.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from LaSalle University, a JD in environmental law from Temple University, and the Conservation Leadership Institute Certificate from the Wharton School of Business.

Stephen Eckelberry

Stephen EckelberryMr. Eckelberry has been a Board member since 2012 and is currently the Chair-elect of the NRPA Board of Directors. Besides being involved with his national association, he is also a Commissioner of the Bartlett Park District, Bartlett, IL, since 1996.

In his professional life, he is a Technology Manger for the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association. Mr. Eckelberry also has served on the NRPA Nominating Board Development Committee 2009-2011; IAPD/IPRA Distinguished Accreditation Committee current member, past co-chair; IPRA/IAPD Conference Committee member; Past IPRA Communications and Marketing Section Director.


Jennifer Harnish

Jennifer HarnishJennifer Harnish is currently the Director of Technology at the Southwest Christian School. She received her bachelors from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Jennifer has been heavily involved in parks and recreation including: Chair, NRPA Citizen Network; Member, NRPA Public Policy Committee; Treasurer, Streams and Valleys nonprofit; Member, Trinity River Vision Citizen Advisory Board; Director, Playgrounds UNLIMITED nonprofit; Past Chair, Texas Recreation and Park Society-Citizen Branch; Past Chair, Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Advisory Board; Past Member, Fort Worth Urban Forestry Board; Mayor’s Task Force, Parks and Library merger proposal. For all her dedication Jennifer has received the Texas Urban Forestry Award and Horizon Award for Service and Leadership.

She received her Bachelors from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Roslyn Johnson

Roslyn JohnsonRoslyn Johnson is the Deputy Director of Facility Operations for The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Department of Parks and Recreation in Prince George’s County, MD. In this role, she leads innovative recreation programs that serve the community. She has oversight of natural and historic resources, sports and arts programs and facilities, maintenance and development, and public affairs and marketing.

Roslyn has an extensive career in the field of parks and recreation. In the past 10 years, she has held Deputy Director and Associate Director positions in parks and recreation agencies in Richmond, the District of Columbia, and Baltimore. Her background and experience include overseeing multi-million dollar budgets, leading a diverse workforce, managing programs and facilities, and representing the agency in community outreach with elected officials, residents, and communities.

Roslyn has been very involved in NRPA. She presented at the first Urban Park Conference in Chicago, at Congress 2010, 2011 and 2013, and the Legislative Forum 2011 and 2012, she taught during the inaugural year of the Graduate Institute at Oglebay, she has been a member of the Urban Park Directors group since inception and NRPA’s Public Policy Committee, served a short stint on the Program Committee, been a member of the Board Nominating Committee, was a diversity mentor, young student/professional lunch pair, and assisted with the Urban Parks Summit. She is currently the Secretary of the Board of Directors.

Roslyn graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a major in Elementary Education.

Jack Kardys

Jack KardysJack Kardys is the Director of the nationally accredited and Gold Medal Award winning Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation & Open Spaces Department (MDPROS), one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the country with 270 parks on 12,800 acres of land.

Built on a foundation of organizational excellence and the pillars of Health, Placemaking and Conservation, MDPROS serves 2.5 million residents and 10 million visitors annually. Dedicating his career to public service, Jack has served the Department for more than 35 years and is currently the FRPA President; an NRPA Board Member; NRPA R.O.S.E., FRPA Distinguished Service, and ASPA Administrator of the Year Award winner. He has led MDPROS to earn the Florida Governor’s Sterling and FRPA Agency Excellence Awards and serves as an executive board member on the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and Zoo Miami Oversight Boards of Directors.

With Jack’s leadership, the Miami-Dade County Parks and Open Space System Master Plan has established the blueprint for improving the quality of life in Miami and transforming it into a more livable, loveable and sustainable community through a system of great parks, public spaces, natural and cultural areas connected by great greenways, blueways, trails and streets that serve as linear parks. Through collaboration with community partners, this Master Plan is a national model for enhancing Miami-Dade’s health, environment, social well-being, and its economic prosperity.

Jack holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Administration and a Master’s of Science in Management, respectively from St. Thomas University. He has served as an adjunct professor at Florida International University teaching Organizational Behavior, Marketing and Recreation Programming and as an instructor and curriculum planner for the FRPA Abraham’s Leadership Academy.

Michael Kelly

Michael KellyMichael P. Kelly serves as General Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chicago Park District. He was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on October 22, 2011. The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners confirmed that appointment on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.

Mr. Kelly previously served as the District's Chief Operating Officer where he worked to provide executive management in areas such as park operations, capital construction, repairs and maintenance, landscape services, security, and other contract services pertinent to the operations of the Park District since 2007. During this time, he led the development of the District's long term capital investment program, prioritizing $350 million in park design and construction projects.

These efforts included the completion of LEED certified field houses, ADA compliant playgrounds, new beach houses and the extensive restoration of Chicago's Buckingham Fountain. Prior to serving as Chief Operating Officer, he held positions as both First Deputy General Counsel and Director of Intergovernmental and Community Affairs.

Kelly earned a JD from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, and a BA in Political Science from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is married, and the father of four children. He and his family reside in the West Morgan Park community.

Detrick Stanford, CPRP

Detrick StanfordDetrick Stanford, Director of Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department in South Metro Atlanta since 2007, has been in the parks and recreation profession over 17 years. He also currently serves as Policy and Planning Liaison for the Clayton County Board of Commissioners and has held positions as Chief Strategic Management and Development for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Financial Administrator in DeKalb County, Georgia Parks Bond/Greenspace Office.

As a committed advocate for our profession, Detrick serves in a myriad of ways, including the following positions: member of the NRPA Board of Directors since 2009 and is currently the Past Chair of the NRPA Board of Directors; 2012-2013 President of the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA); the Board of Regents of the Supervisors’ Management School since 2010; 2014 Chair-elect of the NRPA Congress Program Committee; and currently serves on the following NRPA Board Committees – Finance, Strategic Planning, Public Policy, and Nominating Board Development. Detrick has been active with the National Recreation and Park Ethnic Minority Society (NRPEMS) for over 11 years. Detrick is married to Kallette Stanford and they have two children, Kiya and Dylan.

He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Georgia Southern University and Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Troy State University.

Molly Stevens

Molly StevensMolly Stevens is the CEO and Executive Director of Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center (WODC) in Central Texas and is the co-founder of the Children in Nature Collaborative of Austin (CiNCA).

Prior to WODC, she spent 12 years with the EDF Texas Regional Office and 3 years with the Nature Conservancy of Texas. Molly is a Board Member and Chair of the Governance Committee of the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). She also serves as Chair of Families in Nature.

Molly holds a BA from Olivet College in Political Science and Communication.

Susan Trautman

Susan TrautmanSusan Trautman is the Executive Director of the Great Rivers Greenway District in Saint Louis, Missouri.

She was formally the Director of the City of Des Peres as well as the past Executive Director of the Center of Clayton. Ms. Trautman has been a member of the National Recreation and Park Association Board since 2011 and is currently the Chair for the NRPA Board of Directors. She is also a member of the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration as well as the Chair of the Great Lakes Regional Council. She was previously the President of the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association.

Barbara Tulipane

Barbara TulipaneBarbara Tulipane is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). Tulipane is responsible for the $17 million national organization that works towards ensuring that all people have access to parks for health, conservation, and recreation. NRPA is the national voice for the protection and creation of public parks, harnessing the passion and power of its 50,000 members and the millions of individuals they serve.

NRPA partners with foundations, federal agencies and corporations who recognize the critical role of parks in creating healthy and sustainable communities. NRPA grants millions of dollars a year to its members to implement programs that have measurable objectives such as reducing obesity, increasing physical activity, saving wildlife, connecting children to nature and implementing green infrastructure. Special consideration is given to underserved communities as social equity is a founding principal of NRPA. NRPA recognizes that “place” is a critical component to an individual’s success and that all people deserve a safe and an easy to access park.

Tulipane is a former president and CEO for the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), the $7 million international trade association that represents the $300 billion industry that uses television, radio, and the internet to sell their products and services. Tulipane increased ERA’s visibility in the trade community as well as on Capitol Hill. She represented the industry before Members of Congress and the Federal Trade Communication (FTC), and was interviewed by Dateline, CNBC, CNN, BBC, and The New York Times.

Tulipane entered the association community as the director of marketing for the Army and Air Force Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA), a professional membership association whose mission is to care for soldiers’ families in the event of their death.

Tulipane received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Marketing from the University of Arizona. She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University and is an Executive Fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

William Turner

Joe TurnerWilliam Turner is the Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. Mr. Turner has served on the National Recreation and Park Association Board of Directors since 2011. He is also currently a member of the E.B. Cape Center of the Heritage Society Board as well as the CAPRA Accreditation of Houston Parks and Recreation. He is the former Past President of the Texas Franchisee Association, Humble Rotary Club and Kingwood FFA.

Mr. Turner has had several successes during his career including passing a Park & Open Space Ordinance and creating an Adaptive Recreation Program for his department. He has also been the recipient of the George R. Brown Leadership Award as well as the National Franchisee Association 30 Year Service Award.

NRPA Senior Staff

Anna Amselle, Vice President of Finance and CFO, NRPA

Anna joined NRPA as vice president and chief financial officer in July, 2013. Amselle is responsible for the oversight of the financial operations at NRPA as well as ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations. She has spent her 20 year career working in non-profit accounting, primarily with trade associations and membership organizations. Most recently, she served as Chief Financial Officer with Northern Virginia Family Service.

Anna received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Simpson College and a MBA from George Mason University. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Zarnaaz Bashir, Vice President of Health and Wellness, NRPA

Zarnaaz Bashir joined the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in October 2009 and is the vice president of health and wellness. She is responsible for shaping and leading the vision of NRPA’s health and wellness portfolio, which includes overseeing programs that work to reduce chronic diseases and build healthier environments through parks and recreation, identifying new partnerships and stewarding existing relationships in health and wellness, and seeking fundraising opportunities. Prior to joining NRPA, Ms. Bashir worked at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) as a Senior Program Manager for Public Health Preparedness, overseeing grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to support local health departments’ readiness to respond to public health emergencies and other disasters. She also completed fellowships with the American Cancer Society (ACS) to evaluate cancer services for the poor and underserved populations in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and at the American Lung Association of Northern Virginia to implement and evaluate anti-smoking and asthma maintenance programs in area elementary schools.

Ms. Bashir received her Masters of Public Health from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, with an emphasis on health promotion and disease prevention. Over the years, Ms. Bashir has contributed to various journals for publication, including Childhood Obesity, Journal for Public Health Management and Practice, and the Journal of Community Health.

Julie Boland, Vice President of Membership and Certification, NRPA

Julie joined NRPA in 2008 and serves as the vice president of membership and certification.  In this role, she develops and oversees the association’s membership and certification initiatives. Julie received her Bachelors of Science in Forestry from Purdue University and has been working in the field of parks and recreation since 2000. Prior to her time with NRPA, she served as the Parks Director for the City of Crown Point, Indiana. Julie is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) from the National Recreation and Park Association and a Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives.

Richard J. Dolesh, Vice President for Conservation and Parks, NRPA

Richard J. Dolesh joined NRPA in 2002 and serves as the vice president for conservation and parks. He is responsible for development and implementation of national policy and initiatives related to conservation, stewardship and parks.

Rich worked 30 years in parks, outdoor recreation, and natural resource management at the local and state level in Maryland before coming to NRPA. His recent work includes leading NRPA’s Parks Build Community initiative, coordinating the Parks for Mitigation demonstration projects, and working with the National Wildlife Federation to connect 10 million kids to nature and the outdoors over the next three years. Rich represents NRPA on a number of coalitions and advisory groups including the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition, the steering committee for Natural Play and Learning Area guidelines, and the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES).

Rich is a frequent contributor to NRPA’s Parks and Recreation Magazine, and has written numerous articles on parks and natural resources in publications including The Washington Post and National Geographic Magazine.

Gina Mullins-Cohen, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publications, NRPA

Gina joined NRPA in March of 2013. She brings with her over 17 years of communication and publication management experience. Gina 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, in 2010, a full-service media, communications and publishing company specializing in community publications, online content and events, she was able to work with and report on the achievements within park systems in Southern California. Prior to Eclipse Media Partners, Gina held the post of executive vice president of Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) where she oversaw the communications, publishing and education divisions.

Numerous publications and branding campaigns have been the recipient of awards under Gina’s direction. Her consumer publication, Edible Orange County, was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Publication - 2011. Her work in B2B publishing and communications has been the recipient of four Maggie Awards from the Western Publishing Association.

Kevin O'Hara, Vice President of Urban and Government Affairs, NRPA

Kevin oversees NRPA's Federal Advocacy efforts and leads NRPA's engagement with urban directors and agencies. Previously, O'Hara was Manager of Government Affairs for the American Society of Landscape Architects where he oversaw advocacy efforts on urban parks, green infrastructure, children's access to nature and more. O'Hara also worked for a non-profit in the higher education finance sector where he led advocacy and college access initiatives. O'Hara earned a B.A. Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. O'Hara and his wife Meaghan are residents of the Adams Morgan neighborhood in the District of Columbia, where they overlook the lovely Kalorama Park. His free time pursuits include hiking, travel, and good food.

Kevin A. Roth, Vice President of Research, NRPA

Kevin A. Roth joined NRPA in 2015 as Vice President of Research. Kevin leads the research team in its mission to create valuable data and insights for NRPA members and to support NRPA’s strategic goals and tactics.

Kevin has served in research functions in the nonprofit association space for two decades, including leading research at the Association for Financial Professionals for 13 years and running survey research activities at the National Association of Realtors for four years. Kevin has a PhD in Economics from George Washington University and a BA in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Rebecca Wickline, Senior Vice President of Development, NRPA

Rebecca joined NRPA in 2009 and serves as the vice president of partnerships and business development. In her role, Rebecca establishes and guides the strategic philanthropic fund raising goals of the organization.

Prior to her NRPA role, Rebecca served as Managing Director at Hayes & Associates for five years, a fund raising consulting firm that raises $10 million annually for non-profit organizations. Rebecca has almost 15 years of fundraising experience and has raised more than $25 million for organizations such as the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, USO, Fisher House, National Immigration Forum, Mile High Youth Corps, and many more. Rebecca received her Bachelor’s degree and Masters of Business Administration from Ohio University.