Wednesday Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Gardner-WRAL Meteorologist. Elizabeth Gardner’s career in communication includes positions as a reporter, weather anchor and meteorologist across several North Carolina television markets as well as Spokane, Washington. A meteorologist for WRAL-TV in Raleigh since 1998, Elizabeth was awarded a Regional Emmy for Best Weathercast in 2001. She describes her most memorable assignment as “every hurricane I’ve covered.” Covering these events live and seeing first hand experiences of citizens in the storm path, she understands the importance of being prepared for catastrophic weather events. Elizabeth is active in the community as a member of the Junior League, the Carolina Canoe Club, and served as a board member for the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Master Plan process. She and her husband Tripp have two children and in leisure time you may find her engaged in outdoor recreation activities including mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, or hiking. She loves North Carolina describing its beautiful and diverse setting as a great playground. “You can spend one weekend at the beach paddleboarding and the next weekend in the mountains snowboarding! We really have it all.”
Tori Spaugh is a Recreation Programs Analyst, Senior with the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. She is very passionate about working with youth and underserved communities. Her educational background includes a Master of Science in parks and recreation management and a Bachelor of Arts in exercise and sport science. She is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional and the 2014 recipient of the NRPA Diversity Scholarship. She presented at several state conferences in North Carolina and Virginia, in addition to the NRPA National Conference in 2017 and 2018. She has over 12 years of experience in the field
Currently working as a Regional Program Director with the City of Alexandria, Debbie Woodbury has over 20 years of experience in the Parks and Recreation profession. Ms. Woodbury’s passion exudes for this field as she was named the 2005 Employee of the Year by the City of Falls Church in Virginia. Having already earned the Bachelor of Arts degree from George Mason University, with a concentration in Sociology, Ms. Woodbury earned a Master of Public Administration from North Carolina State University. Also, she is a graduate of the Leadership Training Institute and Supervisor’s Management School. She is a Certified Public Manager and a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional. Ms. Woodbury has a strong track record of generating revenue and programs through a concentrated focus on building relationships and adding value to her context, which has contributed to her success in the field. With a strong desire to empower and teach others, she has served as a presenter for various educational sessions at local, state and national conferences. In 2018, she was nominated for the Equity for Women Award. She continues to study leadership, social justice and is committed to advocating for equity for low-income youth and communities.
Craig Bouck, AIA, LEED AP, President / CEO, Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, Denver, CO Craig is a frequent speaker and author in the recreation design industry. For the past two decades, he has worked with recreation professionals to design value-driven projects that solve problems, create opportunities and build community. Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture has been involved in more than 200 community recreation projects across the country, providing feasibility studies, conceptual designs and award-winning architectural and interior design services.
Mick Massey, RLA, Texas Regional Director, Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, Dallas, TX Mick’s 29 years of experience in municipal government is value added to any community project. His experience as a former Parks and Recreation Director drives his passion for professionals and agencies to “plan your work, and work your plan,” especially when it comes to recreation center planning. Mick’s enthusiasm for public projects is contagious and his knowledge of local government is extremely helpful. He is a registered landscape architect, park planner, and a master at building public consensus.
Nonet Sykes is Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the United States. The first to hold this position, Sykes is responsible for providing cooperative leadership, management, and strategic planning to ensure equity and inclusion for all efforts related to the Atlanta BeltLine. She also helps to formulate policies that address health and sustainability in communities, innovation in community outreach and communication, displacement mitigation, and housing affordability. Prior to joining the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Sykes enjoyed a 17-year career at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She held positions in community change, as well as talent and leadership development. Sykes ultimately earned the position of director of racial equity and inclusion, leading efforts to operationalize the Foundation’s commitment to racial and ethnic equity and inclusion and strengthening the capacity of staff and grantees to identify, implement, and promote the most effective strategies to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes for children, families, and communities of color. Sykes also served as deputy executive director and director of programs for the Maryland Center for Community Development, executive director of Tri-Churches Housing, Inc., and community development specialist with the Baltimore Community Development Financing Corporation. Sykes’ 20 plus years of experience spans the areas of community development, program strategy and development, nonprofit effectiveness, and organizational culture and change leadership. Sykes serves on the equity advisory panel and board of directors for the National Recreation and Parks Association, board of advisors for National League of Cities’ Race, Equity and Leadership Initiative, and board of directors for the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative. Sykes was featured in the book Big Impact: Insights & Stories from America's Non-profit Leaders, the University of Baltimore Magazine in 2016, and the Association of Black Foundation Executives Magazine in 2014. Sykes was also named 2010 Leading Woman by The Daily Record. A native of Baltimore, Sykes earned a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation services from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Baltimore where she was a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Fellow, and a certificate in organizational consulting and change leadership from Georgetown University. Sykes is a diamond life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Kofi Boone, ASLA is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at NC State University, College of Design. He teaches in the areas of environmental justice, site analysis and planning, community engagement, and media. Kofi focuses on participatory design and tools for engaging communities in the design and planning process. His work has been published widely and won state and national awards in communications, analysis and planning, and community service. Kofi is a University Faculty Scholar, and a Board member of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a Detroit native.
Chuck Flink is an award winning author, landscape architect and environmental planner. Over the course of his 35-year professional career Chuck is widely recognized as one of America’s leading greenway planners and designers having completed work in 250 communities within 37 states. He has provided consulting services to international clients in Asia, Canada, Europe, and South America. He has worked on dozens of urban greenways across the nation where resolving issues of equity, inclusion, environmental justice and gentrification have been critical to project success. He is currently a design leader for two urban greenways in Memphis and St. Louis.
Dr. Lincoln Larson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management (PRTM) at North Carolina State University. His academic background includes degrees from Duke University and the University of Georgia. Before coming to NC State, Lincoln worked as a researcher at Cornell University and a faculty member in PRTM at Clemson University. For over 10 years, Lincoln’s research and teaching has focused on social equity in outdoor recreation and natural resources management. He has worked with a number of international (IUCN), federal (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service), state (various state park agencies), and local partners (city of Atlanta, San Antonio) to explore strategies for promoting environmental justice in recreation planning and decision-making.
Brandon Harris is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies Department at the University of Arizona. Brandon received his PhD from Clemson University’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management Department. Brandon also holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in Sports Marketing and Management. Brandon’s areas of focus include the influence of green amenities on the physical and social environments in urban communities, environmental justice issues related to “green” gentrification, the impact of neighborhood stigma on communities of color, and how parks and leisure activities connect youth to the communities in which they live. Additionally, Brandon has and continues to work with park and recreation agencies and city governments across the Southeast in designing and implementing community-based strategic plans and economic impact assessments.
Ms. Carolyn McKnight is a native of Montgomery, Alabama and has served the park and recreation profession for 32 years. She graduated from Alabama State University with a Bachelor of Science degree and Texas Christian University with a Master of Science. She is a “real game changer” in the community she currently serves. Her uncompromising passion for innovative programming, quality sites and facilities have brought the East Baton Rouge community light years into the future. She dedicated the first nature conservation areas in East Baton Rouge at Frenchtown Road and Blackwater serving more than 450,000 residents and protecting and preserving 800 acres of park land. Her leadership acumen in the field of parks and recreation has benefitted the City of Dallas, East Baton Rouge Parish (BREC), the National Recreation and Park Association and the United States Air Force with great skill, finesse and wisdom. Prior to working for East Baton Rouge, she retired from the US Air Force Reserves at the rank of Colonel. Some roles and achievements include the following: · NRPA Baltimore Maryland Conference Education Program Committee Chair, 2008 presenting over 300 professional development sessions to over 8,000 attendees. · American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators (AAPRA) Fellow, 2008 to Present - National Gold Medal Committee 2015 Chair & CAPRA Accreditation Commissioner – Present · Leadership Louisiana 2015 graduate appointed by State Senator Sharon Weston-Broome, now mayor president of East Baton Rouge · Texas & Louisiana Recreation and Park Association Member and presented numerous sessions at state and national conferences · NRPA/North Carolina State University Board - Supervisors’ Management School Instructor, 2006 to 2012, Chair of the Board 2011-2012 & Directors School Instructor, 2009 to 2013 and present · National Recreation and Park Ethnic Minority Society – Chair 2007 and Mentoring Program Leader – 2013 - present · Baton Rouge Influential Women in Business, voted in 2013 · Governor of Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award, 2007 · Exemplary Service Citation from the NRPA Board of Trustees, 2008 · Inducted into The Links, Incorporate in 2015 and Chair of Community Health program initiatives · National Distinguished Professional Award, 2016 · Visit Baton Rouge Convention and Visitor’s Board member since 2013 and Chair in 2018 · National Park and Recreation Board of Directors, 2017 to present Mrs. McKnight serves with a group of city leaders on the Mayor’s Healthy Baton Rouge Task Force. She organized and implemented the Community Healthy Fair involving over 50 agencies, businesses and professional agencies serving over 32,000 participants. She worked to complete the agency’s strategic plan and has been successful in linking BREC’s 10-year strategic plan with 28 different organizations to achieve critical outcomes over the next ten years and leverage over $200 million in public-private and public-public funding support. Her leadership assisted the First Tee of East Baton Rouge junior golf program to link knowledge through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) with an 8-week golf/youth development program impacting over 1,200 youth. She was instrumental in working with the Humana Health Care Corporation and KABOOM! to build an $85,000 playground in a play desert in the southeast area of the parish. She worked with the BREC Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shields Foundation of Louisiana to obtain a $1 million-dollar match grant to design and build 15 miles of connecting /bike trails and to purchase a mobile playground to take into play deserts. Other significant accomplishments included securing over $573 million in renewed property tax millages for her agency and ensured BREC received the fifth CAPRA re-accreditation in 2014 meeting 100% of the industry standards. She recently completed the renovation of six large community park projects valued at over $13M dollars to help transform the parish of East Baton Rouge. Her agency has been recognized by the National Recreation and Park Association as a Gold Medal Finalist for the past two years in a row for excellence in park and recreation management. This award is presented to four of the 12,000 agencies around the country who are “Best in Class” and Baton Rouge is considered a class 1 agency in competition with cities with population sizes over 450,000 residents. She is a devoted wife, mother of two sons and grandmother of four of the smartest and most beautiful grandchildren in the state of Texas.