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Leadership Bios

Leon T. Andrews, Jr.

Leon AndrewsLeon T. Andrews, Jr. serves as senior fellow at the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, where he has led all of the Institute’s youth development work with mayors and other municipal leaders around the country. His work includes areas related to childhood obesity, disconnected youth, youth engagement and leadership and youth master planning.

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, and they have three beautiful daughters – Jessica Austin, Julia Iris and Joanna Jonas.

Robert Ashcraft, Ph.D.

Robert AshcraftDr. Ashcraft is the Executive Director of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU) as well as a professor of nonprofit studies at ASU's School of Community Resources and Development (SCRD). He was selected for the “2012 NPT Power & Influence List” as one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by the Nonprofit Times.

Dr. Ashcraft is the Executive Director of the Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation at Arizona State University (ASU) as well as a professor of nonprofit studies at ASU's School of Community Resources and Development (SCRD). He was selected for the “2012 NPT Power & Influence List” as one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by the Nonprofit Times.

In recognition of his contributions, Dr. Ashcraft has received several awards from ASU’s SCRD (formerly the Dept. of Recreation Management & Tourism) including Outstanding Research Award (2003); Outstanding Service Award (1998, 2000, 2005); Outstanding Teaching Award (1997).

Dr. Ashcraft has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona, a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

Barbara Baca

Barbara BacaBarbara Baca is currently the Director of the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department. Ms. Baca currently serves on both the National Recreation and Park Association Board and the New Mexico Recreation and Parks Association Board. She is also a former employee of the National Park Service Rivers, Trail and Conservation Assistance Program.

Ms. Baca has received several recognitions during her career, including Fast Track Award, National Park Service; Outstanding Young Professional, N.M. Recreation and Park Association; Certificate of Outdoor Leadership, Wilderness Education Association, Colorado State University; State Historic Preservation Office recognition for Northwest Mesa Escarpment Plan.

Ms. Baca received her Bachelors in Recreation from the University of New Mexico and her Masters in Recreation Administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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 previously served on the NRPA Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies. She has also 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, as well as several years of consulting and training.

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.

His educational background includes a Masters in Sports Administration and Facility Management, an MBA and a Masters in Advertising and Public Relations. 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 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 Secretary 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 Manager 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.

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, facilities, maintenance and development, public affairs and marketing.

Roslyn 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, facilities, maintenance and development, public affairs and marketing.

Roslyn has been very involved in NRPA. She presented at the first Urban Park Conference in Chicago, Congress 2010, 2011 and 2013 and the Legislative Forum 2011 and 2012. She also 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 part of 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.

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 260 parks on 12,800 acres of land.

Built on a foundation of organizational excellence and the pillars of Health, Place-making 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 34 years and is an NRPA Board Member; FRPA President-elect; 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. Through collaboration with community partners, this Master Plan is a national model for enhancing Miami-Dade’s health, environment, social well-being and 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. He was also 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.

Brian Knapp

Brian KnappMr. Knapp is currently a Vice President at The Cohen Group, an international consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. He manages several client relationships and collaborates with a distinguished group of professionals to provide global business consulting services and advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in aerospace and defense.

Mr. Knapp joined The Cohen Group in September 2003 after an eighteen-year career at the U.S. Department of Defense. He held multiple assignments at DoD, including Senior Advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy overseeing DoD's interactions with foreign defense establishments around the globe. He also served as a congressional liaison, and in the mid-1990s, he was the Secretary of Defense's representative to the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament and other multilateral negotiating bodies (including the United Nations and NATO). He is a three-time recipient of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award.

In addition to serving on the NRPA Board, he is Chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and is a long time member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board in the city of Fairfax, Virginia.

Mr. Knapp is a graduate of UCLA, Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Georgetown’s International Executive MBA program. Mr. Knapp is married and has a son.

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 for 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 being a member of the NRPA Board of Directors since 2009 and is currently the 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 NRPA Board Committees of 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.

He received his Bachelor of Science from Georgia Southern University and Master’s in Public Administration from Troy State University. Detrick is married to Kallette Stanford and they have two children, Kiya and Dylan.

Molly Stevens

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

She has been dedicated to environmental advocacy and natural resource protection for more than 20 years. She spent 13 years with EDF’s Texas regional office as Director of Development and then Regional Managing Director. Prior to that position, she was the State Development Director for the Nature Conservancy of Texas. She also spent 12 years with United Way in Flint, MI and in New Orleans, LA. Molly has recently joined the Board of Directors for the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

Molly holds a BA from Olivet College in Political Science and Communications. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and is an avid outdoor enthusiast. She is married and has two teenage sons.

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-elect 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 currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

Responsible for leadership, development, advocacy, corporate relations and financial stewardship, Barbara has complete oversight for NRPA’s operation and its 60-person staff. She oversees the government affairs program, the annual convention, professional development, and Park and Recreation (NRPA’s monthly publication).

Previously Barbara served as President and Chief Executive Officer 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. ERA’s 500 member companies, 33% of which are international, include live shopping networks, online marketers and industry suppliers such as QVC, The Home Shopping Network (HSN), eBay and Google.

Prior to working at the ERA, Barbara was the Vice President of Operations for NATSO Inc., a national trade association representing travel center owners and operators. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, NATSO advocates for over 1,011 travel plazas and truck stops owned by more than 250 multi-chain and independent operators nationwide. In this role Barbara served as the industry spokesperson on issues related to fuel, rest area commercialization and environmental matters. She led recruitment and retention efforts for membership, oversaw educational programs and executed the annual convention where she successfully introduced a joint venture with the trucking industry that resulted in an increase in attendance of travel plaza operators each year.

Barbara Tulipane entered the association community in 1989 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. In her role she was responsible for increasing membership, raising the association’s visibility in the military community and creating relevant services for young military families. During this time she had oversight for a $1 million budget, special programs, publications and events. This position required heavy interaction with top Army and Air Force officers, a skill set that she has built upon in each role she has held since.

Barbara began her career immediately following graduation from the University of Arizona where she received her undergraduate degree in Sociology and Marketing. She is a Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. She also is a Fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Program.

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.

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.

Travis Smith, Vice President of Research, NRPA

Travis Smith has been with NRPA since August of 2013, and previously served as NRPA’s Director of Research. Travis’ academic background is biomedical research, and he holds a doctorate in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology from the University of Denver. Prior to NRPA, Travis was a chemistry and biology subject matter expert at Booz Allen Hamilton, supporting government clients in technical and project management related to scientific projects. Subsequently, he was a partner in a company focused on assessment and development of programs addressing medical problems facing the military and Veteran communities. Travis lives in Leesburg, VA, with his wife and daughter.

Rebecca Wickline, Vice President of Business 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.




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