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With solid leadership skills accumulated over almost three decades working in the parks and recreation field, Sara has a proven track record of getting results and a demonstrated commitment to the community.

Work experience

Dec 2008Present

Department Director

City of Austin - Parks & Recreation

Responsible for the overall operation and leadership of 699 full time equivalent personnel, a $86 million operating budget and over $181 million in capital improvement projects . Today, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 20,000 acres of land containing 300 parks and more than 212 miles of hike-and-bike trails. Other facilities include 26 recreation and senior centers;  11 museums, arts and cultural centers;  5 public cemeteries; 6 golf courses; 12 dog parks and 25 swimming pools.

Apr 2006Nov 2008

Department Director

City of Phoenix - Parks & Recreation

Responsible for the overall operations and leadership of 1100 full-time equivalent personnel and a $110 million operating budget. The City of Phoenix park system includes 37,000 acres of public parks, desert mountains and preserves; 154 sports fields, 8 golf courses, 35 community recreation centers, 140 tennis courts, 10 lakes, 4 skateboard parks, 4  dog parks, 166 after school programs, 2 major league baseball facilities, 2 museums, 29 swimming pools, 2 environmental education centers, 265 miles of hiking trails, 880 acres of street landscaping, major downtown special events and countless encounters with residents, tourists, business and citizens.

Aug 2002Mar 2006

Department Director

City of San Jose - Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services

Responsible for the overall operations and leadership of 775 full-time equivalent personnel and a $45 million operating budget. Over $220 million + in capital construction programs and $28 million in grant funds were within the Director’s purview or jointly managed by the Department and other related departments of the City. The City’s traditional parks and recreation functions are found in the direct management of 24 community centers, 13 senior centers, 13 youth centers and 5 City-owned municipal pools (with collaborative operation relationships at 12 swimming pools). A total of 3,512 acres of parks and open space, which includes five regional parks, gardens and a children’s zoo. Oversee the Animal Services Division as well as City-Wide grants; Healthy Neighborhood Venture Funds and the Community Development Block Grant Fund.

Jun 1997Aug 2002

Department Director

City of Virginia Beach - Parks & Recreation

Responsible for the overall operation of the Department of Parks and Recreation, which includes the following divisions: Administrative Services, Design and Development, Parks, Golf Courses and Recreation. The department is comprised of 232 full-time and over 400 part-time team members, with an operating budget of $20 million, a $2 million golf course enterprise fund and an additional $46 million in Capital Improvement Program dollars.

Apr 1994Jun 1997

Recreation Administrator

City of Virginia Beach - Parks & Recreation

Responsible for the overall operation of the Recreation Division which is comprised of 7 facilities, 13 budget units totaling $12.5 million dollars, 175 full-time and over 275 part-time team members.

Mar 1989Apr 1994

Director of Recreation

Champaign Park District

Responsibilities included supervision of all recreation personnel (22 permanent staff and up to 300 temporary/seasonal and contractual employees), an annual budget of $3 million, and the operation of 12 facilities.



Executive Development School

Indiana University


Master of Education

University of Arkansas


Bachelor of Science, Education

University of Arkansas


  • Terry Hershey Award, Texas A&M University, 2016
  • David Clark Distinguished Professional Award, 2005
  • Presidential Proclamation, Virginia Recreation & Park Society, 1998
  • President’s Award, American Park & Recreation Society, 1998
  • Ambassador Extraordinary Award for City Economic Enhancement, City of Virginia Beach, 1998
  • Nominated for City Manager’s Creativity Award, Virginia Beach, 1995
  • City Manager’s Creativity Award, Virginia Beach, 1995
  • Al Hattendorf Professional Award, Illinois park and Recreation Society , Recreation Section, 1991
  • 1990 NRPA Gold Medal Winner, Champaign Park District, Class III
  • Pride of the City, Employee Appreciation Program, City of Austin, Texas 1987


  • 2016 Recreation Resource Service, Leadership Workshop, Greensboro, North Carolina, "All In a Day's Work: From Front Line to Director"
  • 2016 South Carolina Parks and Recreation Association Leadership Workshop, Columbia, South Carolina, "Current State of Parks and Recreation"
  • 2015 Parks and Recreation State Executive Directors Conference, San Antonio, Texas, "Current State of Parks and Recreation"
  • 2015 NRPA Congress, Las Vegas, Nevada, "The Infrastructure Time Bomb"
  • 2009-2014 NRPS Director's School, Oglebay, West Virginia, "Organization Structure and Administrative Operations"; "Recreation Programs Planning"
  • 2002 NRPA/NCSU Business Institute, Critical Thinking Budget Principles
  • 2002 Municipal and County Recreation Director’s Conference, North Carolina, “Times Are Changing”
  • 2001 NRPA Congress, Denver, Colorado, “Call of the Wild”, “Business of Sports in Parks and Recreation”
  • 2001 Nevada Park and Recreation Society, Las Vegas, NV, “Enginuity, Be the Engine, Not the Caboose”
  • 2000 NRPA Congress, Phoenix, Arizona, “Call of the Wild”
  • 1999 NRPA Congress, Nashville, Tennessee, “Call of the Wild”; "Internships, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly”
  • 1999 Indiana Park and Recreation Conference, “The Noah Principle”
  • 1997 NRPA Congress, Salt Lake City, Utah, “Call of the Wild”
  • 1996 NRPA Congress, Kansas City, Kansas , “Employee Safari: It’s A Jungle Out There”
  • 1995 NRPA Congress, San Antonio, Texas, “P.I.N. Presents Unusual Special Events”
  • 1995 NRPA Supervisors Summit, Fairfax County, Virginia, “Employees Over the Edge…Pushing Customer Service to New Limits”’
  • 1994 NRPA Congress, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Programmers Information Network”