From Leadership to Zika

May 1, 2016, Department, by Gina Mullins-Cohen

Gina Mullins-Cohen, NRPA Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial DirectorIn Brazil, 1.3 million people were affected by the Zika virus in 2015. Every day, scientists and doctors consider the evidence at hand and realize that this mosquito-borne virus is far more dangerous than originally thought. Now, it is known that the Zika virus can severely damage the brain of fetuses, as well as cause a lifetime of cognitive and health disorders. Because of the growing body of evidence on the dangers of the Zika virus, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency on February 1, 2016.

This virus has been spreading throughout the Western Hemisphere at a rapid rate and, recently, the National Center for Atmospheric Research published a map of the 50 U.S. cities most likely to be affected by Zika virus outbreaks. The list weighs heaviest with urban centers in the southeast, such as Miami, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., but the diagram also includes several cities one might not consider, like Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, Denver and Nashville. The must-read “Zika and Parks” feature by Rich Dolesh, NRPA’s vice president of conservation and parks, on page 56 of this month’s Parks & Recreation magazine, confronts the issues surrounding Zika that need to be examined and shares some precautions various park and recreation agencies throughout the country are taking to protect the public from contracting the virus in urban or rural parks. Dolesh speaks to experts in the field and provides the facts you need to answer tough questions, as well as tips so people can enjoy the summer.

Author Paula Jacoby-Garrett tackles the subject of project management starting on page 66. Her conversations with park and recreation professionals from Miami-Dade, the city of Henderson and Great Rivers Greenway in St. Louis reveal the critical need for this position.

“The 'Hard Skills' of Parks and Recreation Leadership,” by Sara Hensley and Lawrence Allen, on page 62, brings up the unavoidable topic all park and recreation professionals need to consider — leadership skills. Hensley and Allen point out the crucial difference between management and true leadership in this not-to-be-missed feature story.

Whether being proactive in providing a community with crucial information to keep it healthy, helping to develop and then deliver on a community’s master plan, or sharing years of experiences with those who are new to or just entering the profession, park and recreation professionals are called on every day to be leaders in countless ways. And, NRPA is here to provide you with the tools and resources necessary to fill that role.

Gina Mullins-Cohen is NRPA's Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Publishing and Editorial Director.