Seattle Parks and Recreation staff honored for public service

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff pride themselves on giving excellent customer service and being admirable public servants. This year, the department received two awards and three honorable mentions from Seattle Management Association’s Excellence in Management Awards Program. The awards recognize the accomplishments and skills of public employees, and we are proud to have such outstanding members on our team.

Lori Chisholm

Lori Chisholm

Out-of-School-Time Manager Lori Chisolm received the Leadership in Community Service Award. Lori’s contribution to the strategic development of recreation services has strengthened the community through her leadership at our community learning centers, which works with middle school students year-round to develop life skills and enhance their academic learning. She raises funds for these centers by applying for numerous grants that have greatly enhanced the program.

One shining example of how Lori goes above and beyond, was the department’s response to the recent teachers’ strike. With only a few days’ notice, Lori was challenged with creating a plan for child care for thousands of children ages 5-12. Lori collaborated with the Human Services Department, Seattle Public Schools and the Mayor’s Office to develop a plan that ensured a continuation of service for some of the city’s most vulnerable families. Once the strike became a reality, Lori oversaw the operation of the day care program at 21 community centers, monitored daily activities and attendance numbers, and troubleshooted any problems that arose.

Paula Hoff

Paula Hoff

Policy Strategic Advisor Paula Hoff is received the Leadership in Public Service award. Paula is the department’s “community whisperer”: the go-to staff person for some of the most divisive issues in the community and those requiring the utmost tact. Seattle Parks and Recreation turns to Paula for the tough projects because she embodies our values of access and opportunity and she treats the community with those values foremost in both the design of public processes and in her personal interactions. Paula’s work with the community establishes an exemplary path for other staff members to follow; her skill at working with staff and community organizations to find the best path forward models the highest level of public service leadership.

Ayele Dagne
IT Computing Resources Manager Ayele Dagne received honorable mention for the Leadership in Public Service Award. As the pace of technological change accelerates and technology become ever more important for service delivery, Ayele plays a central role in making sure the department is keeping up with the latest trends. Ayele is responsible for developing strategic plans, advising the Superintendent on technology investment areas and strategies and representing the organization in citywide strategies.

Seattle Conservation Corps
The Seattle Conservation Corps program received an honorable mention for the Leadership in Community Service team award. The Corps is a unique program that gives back in two ways: it trains formerly troubled people for viable, living-wage jobs, and the Corps collectively do great work in Seattle parks and for other agencies and employers on a contract basis. It provides homeless adults opportunities to train and work in a structured program that provides them with job skills and carries out projects that benefit our citizens and our environment.

Planning and Development team
Donald Harris, MaryLou Whiteford and Joanne Daniels of the Planning and Development division received honorable mention for the Leadership in Public Service team award. This team contributes to making sure the parks are accessible, available and safe for the entire Seattle community. Their interactions with the community are always respectful and they are often called upon as a Parks expert for various community groups. This is a true team dedicated to the public and the legacy of the parks system.

Seattle Parks staff honored by Seattle Management Association

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff received four awards and three honorable mentions from Seattle Management Association’s Excellence in Management Awards Program in 2014. The awards recognize the accomplishments and skills of public employees, and we are proud to have such outstanding members on our team.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Parks Division Director Dan Johnson received the 2014 Seattle Management Association Leadership in Public Service Award. Dan has worked on big construction projects in the private sector and Seattle Center, has managed Parks construction projects and now directs the work of those who care for those completed projects. He knows the capital side and the operations and maintenance side of the business. He can translate for staff between the two and help Parks Division staff achieve project needs.

Dan not only comes up with new ideas and strategies, but he’s willing to work on the front lines to get things done. Whenever Dan makes decisions, he is careful to keep his staff’s best interests in mind as well as the best interest of the communities he serves.

His leadership style is proactive. He has created an environment where employees and the organization can learn, adapt and grow even during difficult transitional times. He listens to staff and takes collective actions to influence work in the desired direction.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Center City Manager Victoria Schoenburg received an honorable mention for Leadership in Public Service. Victoria is dedicated to making downtown parks safer and more inviting.

In 2006, the City established a Seattle Downtown Parks and Public Spaces Task Force charged with making recommendations on strategies to revitalize and activate downtown parks and public spaces. Victoria has been a driving force on that team since its inception and has spent the last eight years providing leadership to move the Center City Initiative forward and make the city a more vibrant, safer place to live.

Victoria has developed many programs in her current role including the Park Ranger program and ArtSparks, which brings our public spaces to life through temporary art installations and performances.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Strategic Advisor Susan Golub received the 2014 Seattle Management Association Leadership in Planning and Project Management Award. Susan has been a consistent leader in the department. Susan has ensured that the department remains accountable to Seattle citizens, the Mayor and City Council and has worked tirelessly to implement new projects and policies that have kept the department moving forward.

Susan oversees the nine-member Board of Parks Commissioners and manages the Levy Oversight Committee which oversees the six-year, $180 million Parks and Green Spaces Levy. Susan’s leadership has ensured successful implementation of the projects and programs included in the Levy.

Susan also serves as the key contact for the Law Department, City Budget Office and City Council in the development and review of 20-30 pieces of legislation every year. Susan is responsible for setting schedules, leading staff in the preparation and review of legislation and works with others to get the legislation through the approval process in an efficient and timely manner.

One of the most important projects Susan worked on was the creation of the Parks Legacy Plan. Because of Susan’s work on the Parks Legacy Plan, Parks now has a sustainable funding source that ensures our programs and facilities will continue serving the people of Seattle. Susan will help preserve and build upon our department’s legacy as she works on the Seattle Park District implementation.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Senior Planner Kathleen Conner received an honorable mention for Leadership in Planning and Project Development. Kathleen oversees the department’s major maintenance projects and Asset Management Plan, two of the most essential parts of the organization.

Parks uses a six-year Asset Management Plan—a compendium of all known capital major maintenance needs, currently comprising more than 300 major maintenance projects that together cost nearly $267 million. Projects are prioritized based on safety and regulatory requirements first. Parks’ Capital Improvement Plan is developed from the Asset Management Plan.

Kathleen Conner was recognized because she has demonstrated the ability to successfully manage Parks’ Asset Management Plan and major maintenance projects, which largely determine the success of community center programs (making sure the facilities are functioning) and the health and future of our 400+ parks.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Senior Environmental Analyst Jodi Sinclair received the 2014 Seattle Management Association Leadership in Environmental Stewardship Award.  Jodi is dedicated to the principle of the protection and preservation of our natural resources through responsible action.  She collaborates with management and employees to build collective ownership over practices and procedures that best protect our workers, the public health and the environment.

Jodi’s duties include monitoring contaminated sites to ensure public safety and proper containment and remediation and providing assistance and training for managers, supervisors and crews concerning safe practices and procedures for working with hazardous chemicals or on contaminated sites. Jodi makes sure that hazardous waste is handled and disposed of legally and safely as mandated by state and federal statute. She assesses regulatory compliance of departmental facilities by onsite inspection and ensures corrective actions are implemented.

Jodi also assists facility managers to ensure improved waste reduction practices and encourage recycling opportunities. She encourages environmentally responsible purchasing and expands the departmental use of environmentally preferable products and services.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Trails Coordinator Chukundi Salisbury received the 2014 Seattle Management Association Leadership in Race and Social Justice Award for pioneering a program that makes educational opportunities available to underprivileged young adults in our community.

Three years ago Chukundi created the Youth Greens Corps in partnership with Goodwill. Youth Green Corps is a nine-month program. Participants receive training in a classroom setting and learn environmental stewardship by restoring trails and parks. The program aims to address youth unemployment and create pathways to green jobs.

Youth Green Corps consists of 11 Corps members. Members split time between Goodwill, forest restoration and trail work in Seattle Parks for educational and career training. Participants are ages 18-24 and receive a $1,000-per-month stipend.

In the final session of the program, college-bound participants can participate in Goodwill’s Community College 101 class in which Goodwill offers to pay for participants’ first two quarters of community college.

Many of the Youth Green Corps members are homeless youth and people of color who were previously disengaged from the community. Chukundi’s vision has allowed these individuals to get a fresh start and create a life for themselves and their families. The program exposes people to green career paths through community service and college preparation. It removes some of the obstacles at-risk youth typically face when trying to re-enter school or the workforce.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Emergency Management Manager Patti Petesch received an honorable mention for Leadership in Community Service. Over the past 40 years, Patti Petesch has dedicated her life to making a positive impact on youth within the greater Seattle community.  This dedication has been exemplified through her work with Seattle Parks and Recreation and her volunteer work with the Pacific Northwest Track and Field Association and the United States Track and Field Association.

Throughout her career with Seattle Parks and Recreation, Patti Petesch has been a leader in advocating for youth and committing to work that contributes towards making a positive change in the community.   This is demonstrated by her leadership for many years with Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Citywide Athletics program.  Her effective management of the program helped to develop staff knowledge and skills, resulting in successfully building a program that increased access and opportunities in athletics for youth, adults and seniors.

Not only has Patti dedicated her working career to serving youth and families, outside of work, she has contributed countless hours volunteering with the Pacific Northwest Track and Field Organization, affiliated with the US Track and Field Association.  For over 15 years, Patti has served as invaluable member in numerous capacities, from officiating high school and collegiate track meets and organizing the youth division program.

Without question, Patti Petesch has become our region’s leader in providing opportunities for youth to experience the challenge and personal growth of track and field competition.