Incoming NRPA board member Roslyn Johnson has been an active member of NRPA for 10 years and a park and recreation professional since 2002. As the deputy director of facility operations for the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation in Maryland, she oversees her agency’s Arts and Cultural Heritage; Maintenance and Development; Natural and Historic Resources; Public Affairs and Marketing; and Sports, Health and Wellness divisions. She is also charged with interfacing with elected officials and the public; providing necessary resources for staff and supporting their professional development; ensuring her agency remains a good steward of taxpayer money; and maintaining programs, facilities and parks that are accessible and meet the needs of the entire community. Although she attests that she became professionally involved with parks and recreation “by accident,” it’s clear her time spent in the field has been well-served.
In the past, what roles have you held with NRPA?
My involvement with NRPA has steadily increased during my membership. As a speaker, I have presented at the first Urban Park Conference in Chicago and at Congress and Legislative Forum twice. I have also been a member of the Urban Directors Network since its inception and the Public Policy Committee for the past two years. In addition, I served a short stint on the Program Committee, have been a member of the Board Nominating Committee, served as a diversity mentor and young student/professional lunch pair, assisted with the Urban Parks Summit by involving the mayor of Richmond, have been a member of the Ethnic Minority Society, and have helped out in any other way I have been called upon to assist.
Once you come aboard NRPA’s Board of Directors in October, what do you hope to accomplish during your time in that leadership role?
In order for NRPA to continue moving forward as a national leader and expert, its success is going to be dependent upon recruiting and appealing to our young future leaders and their needs. During these tough financial times when so many agencies have to make some tough decisions, they also need to be able to see the value in NRPA, and I believe I can assist in getting that message out. Additionally, although I think the mission, vision and all of the core values in the strategic plan are important, a culture of enjoyment, fun and celebration along with a commitment to inclusion and diversity will be a part of my focus. NRPA has been a very welcoming organization, and we need to continue to do so by reaching out to our members, encouraging them and creating platforms for them to become involved and active.
In what ways do you think the field of parks and recreation might have opportunities to grow and improve?
Years ago, we used to just be the parks and sports programs in the country. Today, as we have evolved, we are experts in providing opportunities for people of all ages, cultures, abilities and special needs. We will have an even greater opportunity to grow and improve the more we get everyone to believe what we already know: We are in the business of saving lives. Whether it’s redirecting negative behaviors with positive opportunities for our youth; teaching lifelong skills such as swimming, trades and the like; helping to build character; or providing a park or trail for someone to walk, bike, run or horseback ride on — very simply put, we save lives.
Interview byDanielle Taylor, Associate Editor, Parks & Recreation.