Many park and recreation professionals experience twists and turns in their professional paths, but Seve Ghose’s journey from a child growing up in Zambia, Africa, to the helm of the Louisville, Kentucky Metro Parks and Recreation Department, may take the cake. Born in India, raised in Zambia and schooled in Darjeeling and Iowa State University, Ghose possesses a vibrancy that is surely enhanced by his worldly upbringing and go-get-’em attitude. He put himself through college working at Ames Parks and Recreation and, unable to find work after graduation, began his park and recreation career in earnest as the operator of the local ice arena some 29 years ago. Now, four months into his job as director of Louisville Metro Parks, Ghose is as energetic, engaged and excited as he was during those initial forays into the industry. Here, we learn more about his aspirations for his new agency and what he wants the public to know about parks and recreation.
Parks & Recreation magazine: Tell us about your professional trajectory in parks and recreation.
Seve Ghose: The journey to advance my career has taken me to Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, Iowa and now Kentucky, working in the private sector, park districts and in municipalities large and small in positions ranging from project management, facility management, recreation, parks, planning and community outreach and engagement. The one position that stands out for me is the regional director job I had with the city of Portland, Oregon. There, I learned the most and, to this day, value all that I sponged. This experience led to my stint in Davenport, Iowa, as the director there for five years, moving a department that was slated for demise to become a relevant force for positive change in the community and, in the process, becoming nationally accredited as the only agency from Iowa with that honor.
P&R: What are your goals for Louisville Metro Parks?
Ghose: My goal is to make our department the one by which all other park and recreation agencies are benchmarked against, as the standard bearer. I love Louisville, and my family and I are absolutely happy we made the move. The department has professional staff in all levels who hunger to be the best, along with us having strong political and community support.
P&R: What are some of your greatest challenges as director?
Ghose: Continually motivating staff to think beyond the day-to-day and look to be proactive. We easily get mired in our silos, afraid of change and reluctant to look to the future. Our job is not only to be good stewards, but to also leave a lasting legacy of inclusion, innovation and value for future generations.
P&R: What’s surprised you most during your career?
Ghose: The most striking has been the continual refrain of how easily our field gets marginalized and how much more work we, as professionals, have to do to be relevant in the community, socially and politically.
P&R: If you could tell the public one thing it should know about its community park systems, what would that be?
Ghose: Parks and recreation is an essential piece to the quality-of-life puzzle. We thus need to espouse the value of homes tied to their proximity to parks, health, wellness and sustainable practices. We do have empirical evidence available to verify the above-mentioned items.
P&R: Any resolutions for the new year that you’d like to share?
Ghose: Raise the Metro Parks profile further in Louisville and nationally, spend more time with family and to not take work on vacation.
Samantha Bartram is the Executive Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine.