The National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) award-winning Parks & Recreation magazine is distributed to more than 60,000 people via print and digital magazines and helps park and recreation professionals serve the public by providing cutting-edge content, exclusive research, innovative “case-study” solutions and commentary from high-profile government and civic leaders within the fields of health, conservation and equity. Parks & Recreation magazine is in the unique position of bringing NRPA members together, while providing a much-needed voice to a field where the workers devote countless hours ensuring kids of all ages, cultures and economic backgrounds have safe places to gather, play and make memories. The magazine is considered one of the best in the industry with 92 percent of readers saying it is the leading publication in the field of parks and recreation.

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Print Copies

NRPA members and students will receive the Parks & Recreation magazine by email monthly — subscription is included as part of NRPA member dues. NRPA Premier Members may consult with their internal membership coordinator to find copies of the magazine delivered to their agencies. Subscriptions for non-members are available for $46 per year in the United States; $56 per year elsewhere. To learn more or obtain a subscription, email NRPA Customer Service at


Magazine Staff

Clarissa García joined NRPA in January 2023 in the role of Chief Communications and Engagement Officer. She comes to the organization from the American Heart Association (AHA) where she spent 18 years in a variety of roles. Most recently Clarissa led patient awareness and education campaigns overseeing the marketing and communications strategy, in addition to overall program development. These efforts resulted in improved diagnosis and treatment for patients and their families. In her early years at AHA, Clarissa led the organization’s national grassroots advocacy program, building campaigns that led to the successful passage of federal legislation benefitting heart and stroke patients. Clarissa lives in the Memphis, Tennessee, area with her husband, two kids and their golden retriever.

Vitisia “Vi” Paynich, executive editor of Parks & Recreation magazine and director of print and online content, has been covering the field of parks and recreation as a freelance writer for Parks & Recreation magazine since 2016. As an editor, writer, blogger and director of content, Vi has been working in digital and print publishing for more than 20 years. In July 2004, she joined the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), a nonprofit serving the direct response marketing industry, as editor-in-chief to launch its monthly publication. After serving seven years on the magazine, Vi transitioned into the content manager role at ERA — leading the educational programming for its annual conferences. She also oversaw editorial for ERA’s blog, e-newsletter and other digital projects. Prior to that, she worked as an editor for both B2B and consumer magazines. Vi earned a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from California State University at Long Beach.

Lindsay Collins, managing editor of Parks & Recreation magazine, joined NRPA in March 2018 as the board liaison before joining the magazine staff in April 2019. Prior to NRPA, Lindsay worked for the Federal Protective Service, where she provided support for the explosive detection canine training program. Before moving to Virginia, Lindsay attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received a bachelor’s degree in legal studies and political science. Lindsay currently lives in Warrenton, Virginia, where she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her dog Romeo and practicing photography.

Alexandra “Alex” Reynolds, associate editor of Parks & Recreation magazine, joined NRPA in March 2023. Before joining NRPA, Alex worked as a communications specialist for the Village of Lake in the Hills, a northern Illinois municipality, where she promoted park and recreation programs. She also served as a communications specialist for Texas A&M Forest Service and supported efforts to advance the conservation of natural resources. Alex received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and literary studies from Roanoke College and a master’s degree in creative writing from Hollins University.

Chris Brummett, production coordinator of Parks & Recreation magazine, joined NRPA in December 2022. Previously, Chris was a production coordinator for Mob Scene helping to produce promotional and behind-the-scenes content. He also served as the assistant editor of the arts and entertainment section of the DailyER at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations and a minor in English.



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Parks & Recreation Magazine Advisory Board

Parks & Recreation magazine regularly works with our Advisory Board — an expansive, nationwide alliance that includes high-level entrepreneurs, park and recreation professionals, architects and academics — to make each issue as thoughtful, informative and useful for NRPA members as possible. These partners lend their time, voice and insights to keep Parks & Recreation at the cutting edge of news and trends affecting our field. Below, meet the members.

  • Open or CloseMichael Abbaté, FASLA, LEED AP

    Principal, Abbaté Designs LLC

    Mike Abbaté has served on the Board of NRPA since 2017. He is a Registered Landscape Architect in multiple states and is certified nationally by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB). He has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2003 and is also a Licensed Landscape Construction Professional.

    In his extensive career in both the private and public sectors, Abbaté has had the honor of being the landscape architect on some of the Pacific Northwest's most iconic landscapes: Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Rainer National Park, Tanner Springs Park and other projects in Portland, the Oregon Zoo, Oregon and Washington State Parks and many others.

    In his many years as the Director of Portland Parks & Recreation, Abbaté oversaw the planning, design, construction and maintenance of over 200 parks and natural areas, and over $75 million of new construction. He is also one of the two founding principals of one of the region's most notable landscape architecture firms, GreenWorks. Abbaté has received many awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects for his work.

    Abbaté now serves as an independent consulting landscape architect on a wide variety of projects from parks system planning and park design to urban design and residential garden design. He also serves as a facilitator and is a frequent speaker on the role of parks in creating strong communities.

    Abbaté is a member of the Council of Fellows of the American Society of Landscape Architecture, an honor bestowed to less than five percent of all practicing landscape architects. The author of Gardening Eden (published by Random House), he is driven by an ethos of our spiritual responsibility for ecological stewardship.

  • Open or CloseNeelay Bhatt

    Principal, PROS Consulting, Inc.

    Neelay Bhatt’s career on five continents includes Disney, The Super Bowl, The Olympics, as well as several years of consulting, public speaking and training. TEDx, the global platform for ideas, describes Bhatt as a business and communications visionary, and his service on the National Recreation and Park Association’s Board of Directors served to ensure that ‘no child is left indoors.’

    He serves as the President of the Immigrant Welcome Center and aspires to make Indy the most welcoming city in America. Most recently, he was chosen by the Indianapolis Business Journal as Indy’s Forty under 40 business leaders impacting the community and was also nominated for a leadership role in the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis.

    Bhatt is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School and the #1 ranked Sports Management Program at Ohio University. His keynotes and talks on magical customer service, trends, empathetic leadership and the art of storytelling have benefited executives, professionals, startups and students from North America to China and from Europe to New Zealand.

    He champions “Ideas Worth Spreading” as the curator and organizer for TEDxIndianapolis, TEDxIndianapolisWomen and TEDxCollegePark (Maryland). He also leads a TED Global workshop in Canada, has presented multiple TEDx talks and coached TEDx presenters.

    As the Principal at PROS Consulting Inc. (headquartered in Indianapolis), he has led more than 130 strategic and master planning, sports facility development, customer service training, and marketing and branding projects. These projects have recommended facility development and infrastructure improvements totaling over $2 billion USD and are helping shape a better vision for health and wellness, conservation and social equity in communities globally.

  • Open or CloseAnthony-Paul (AP) Diaz, Esq.

    Executive Officer, Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP)

    AP Diaz is responsible for helping to manage and oversee all day to day operations, financial services, capital projects, special operations, recreation and HR and risk reductions matters, governance and leadership matters related to Los Angeles City's Park's Commission, the City Council, the City Attorney's Offices and the Mayor's Offices.

    Diaz has over 23 years of professional experience and service to the City of Los Angeles. Prior to assuming his duties at RAP, he served as a City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, litigated hundreds of matters in the Criminal Branch and as a specially assigned prosecutor in the City's Neighborhood Prosecutor Program working on non-traditional methods to reducing community crime. Thereafter, he served in the Civil Division's Municipal Law Branch as legal counsel to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, General Services and as lead contract counsel for the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments. He also served as one of the principal City Attorneys assigned to advise and staff the Los Angeles City Council.

    Prior to assuming his current role, Diaz served as General Counsel for RAP, helping guide the Department on many high profile and important endeavors, most notably the transformation, restoration and management model for the historic and iconic Greek Theatre.

    Diaz serves as an instructor at the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department Leadership Academies teaching Adult Development Theory and Transformational Leadership; is a faculty member for NRPA's Directors School; Chair of NRPA's Parks & Recreation magazine Editorial Advisory Board and is a Judge Pro Tem for the Los Angeles Superior Court.

    Diaz was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up and went to school in Santa Monica. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Politics from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Washington and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.

  • Open or CloseRyan Eaker

    Nature-Based Programs Supervisor, Austin, Texas, Parks and Recreation, Lorraine “Grandma” Camacho Activity Center

    Ryan Eaker is the nature-based programs supervisor for Austin Parks and Recreation’s Camacho Activity Center. Eaker has developed and led outdoor adventure, environmental education and arts programming for youth, teens, families and senior citizens for more than 18 years. Eaker holds a variety of outdoor industry guide and instructor-level certifications and a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

  • Open or CloseBeau Fieldsend

    Manager, Strategic and Section Infrastructure, United States Tennis Association

    Beau Fieldsend is the Manager of Strategic & Section Infrastructure of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). He works primarily with Community Tennis Associations, public parks and other organizations around the country who are interested in improving or building tennis courts. Fieldsend has worked at the USTA for three years and comes from a tennis background.

  • Open or CloseKathleen Gibi

    Executive Director, Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful

    Kathleen Gibi serves as the Executive Director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, the nation’s first Keep America Beautiful affiliate to focus solely on a river. The nonprofit was founded after a Tennessee River cleanup series that Gibi helped initiate with the national nonprofit, Living Lands & Waters, while working in city of Knoxville Parks and Recreation. She worked at the city of Knoxville from 2004 to 2018, where she was instrumental in Knoxville achieving an assortment of national media attention for its health and outdoor initiatives, including recognition at the White House from First Lady Michelle Obama and ranking No. 1 nationally among Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC). In 2015, the National League of Cities named Gibi for its ‘Most Dedicated Staff Member’ award. Gibi has also worked with marketing/communications consultation on the side, most notably serving 2009 to 2012 as a media liaison for Jenny Berggren, lead singer from 90s pop sensation, Ace of Base.

  • Open or ClosePaul Gilbert, CPRP

    Executive Director, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

    Paul Gilbert is the executive director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks, formerly known as NVRPA), a multijurisdictional park agency with an annual operating and capital budget of almost $30 million. In his role, Gilbert implemented a number of entrepreneurial practices that grew his agency’s enterprise revenue more than 75 percent between 2005 and 2014. He is an adjunct professor at George Mason University and is also the author of two books and numerous articles. In his spare time, Gilbert serves as a volunteer on the boards or in leadership roles of several organizations in his area of expertise.

  • Open or CloseTim Herd, CPRE

    Chief Executive Officer, Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society

    Tim Herd, CPRE, is the CEO of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society. His professional experience encompasses community, commercial, outdoor and therapeutic recreation; environmental education; and executive leadership in governmental, nonprofit and corporate settings. Herd is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, and the author of several books and countless published articles, features and serial columns.

  • Open or CloseBrian Johnson, CPSI

    Chief Marketing Officer, BCI Burke Playground Company

    Brian Johnson serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for BCI Burke Playground Company, having joined the firm in 2007. There he shares his passion for play for all abilities and ages with the teams he oversees, including Product Development, Design and Marketing. Prior to joining the company, Johnson held several senior sales and marketing leadership positions. Johnson holds a B.S. in Business Management and Accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and an M.B.A. in Marketing from the Keller Graduate School of Management. In his spare time, he runs, hikes and travels while spending time with his wife and three children.

  • Open or CloseDenise Johnson-Caldwell

    Design Planner, Baltimore City, Maryland, Recreation and Parks

    Biography coming soon.

  • Open or CloseRoslyn Johnson, CPRP

    Director, Baltimore County Recreation and Parks

    Roslyn Johnson, CPRP was unanimously confirmed in March 2020 as the first female director of Baltimore County Maryland’s Department of Recreation and Parks. She is excited her career has come full circle and she is able to bring her expertise in the field and her innovative spirit back to the county where she was raised. She was most recently the deputy director of facility operations for a six-time National Gold Medal winning Parks and Recreation agency in Prince George's County, Maryland. In this role, she led innovative recreation programs that served the community. She had oversight of natural and historic resources, sports and arts programs and facilities, maintenance and development, and public affairs and marketing.

    Johnson has an extensive career in the field of parks and recreation. In the past 17 years, she has held deputy director and associate director positions in parks and recreation agencies in Richmond, Virginia; the District of Columbia; and Baltimore, Maryland. Her background and experience include overseeing multi-million-dollar budgets, leading a diverse workforce, managing programs and facilities, and representing the agency in community outreach with elected officials, residents and communities.
    Johnson has been very involved with NRPA. She was a board member of NRPA from 2013 to 2019. She presented at the first Urban Park Conference in Chicago, Illinois, is a familiar presenter at the NRPA Annual Conference, taught during the inaugural year of the Graduate Institute at Oglebay and was an instructor for NRPA Directors School from 2015 to 2019. She has been a member of the NRPA Urban Park Directors group since inception, served a short stint on the Program Committee, was a diversity mentor, young student/professional lunch pair, and assisted with the Urban Parks Summit. Johnson is a senior executive fellow of the Harvard Kennedy School and has a certificate of leadership from The Center for Creative Leadership.

    Her passion and enthusiasm for her profession is ever evolving, and Johnson recently completed training to become a Certified International Coach. She is also very involved in the professional community and is a member of The Ethnic Minority Society of NRPA, Maryland Recreation and Parks Association, Americans for the Arts, Maryland Association of Counties and The National Forum of Black Public Administrator’s Maryland and Central Virginia chapters. Her induction into The American Academy for Park & Recreation Administration has been one of her long-awaited professional goals.

    Johnson is a true advocate for and passionate believer in innovation of all forms; especially the ways in which it can shape our communities and the lives of our residents. She has served as a keynote both nationally and internationally. These days, Johnson is particularly focused on the intersection of diversity and innovation as we look for ways to adapt to and to continue to enjoy an ever-changing world.
    Johnson graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, and in her free time enjoys making fused glass jewelry and silversmithing.

  • Open or CloseMichele Lemons

    Director, Chicago Park District’s Communications Department

    Biography coming soon.

  • Open or CloseSam Mendelsohn

    Chief Executive Officer, Greenfields Outdoor Fitness

    As founder and CEO of Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, Sam Mendelsohn has increased the role parks play in bolstering community wellness. With his 25 years of entrepreneurial and executive experience, Mendelsohn has been a pioneer in the push for greater inclusivity in outdoor fitness environments.

  • Open or CloseMaria Nardi

    Director, Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces

    Maria I. Nardi was appointed Director for Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (PROS) effective August 1, 2017. Ms. Nardi is responsible for one the most diverse and largest park systems in the country.  She oversees Planning and Development, Park Stewardship Operations and Administration of a system that includes over 270 park properties, over 13,000 acres of park land comprised of active and passive parks, as well as protected, environmentally sensitive properties, serving 2.7 million residents and approximately 1.4 million residents for the unincorporated area.  They include the Deering Estate at Cutler, Zoo Miami, over 26,000 acres of Natural Areas Conservation and Management (NAM), Golf Enterprise, 14 miles of Beaches, Agriculture Extension, Causeways, 260 miles of roadways, Disabilities Services, Marina Enterprise, and multiple Operating Regions.

    Ms. Nardi also oversees the implementation of the Parks and Public Space Masterplan to transform Miami Dade into a more socially, economically and environmentally vibrant community through a system of parks, public spaces, natural and historic areas connected by greenways/blueways and complete streets designed as linear parks.  Her vision includes the role of parks and public spaces in shaping cities; the emerging evidence-based science of health and the built environment; and the creation of equitable, resilient communities through parks and public space.

    Prior to her work at Miami Dade County, Ms. Nardi initiated Miami21; a rewrite of the City of Miami’s zoning to transform the city into a walkable, pedestrian friendly community.  Ms. Nardi has spoken extensively on issues related to the role of public space in the development of cities. The Parks Masterplan and Recreation Program has been recognized by the White House and the National Park and Recreation Association as a national model for transforming communities. She has been recognized for her work, including the International Progressive Architecture Urban Design Award, the University of Miami Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Architecture Profession, the Harvard Honor Award for Excellence in the Study of Landscape Architecture, The Mayor’s Woman Pioneer Award and the Miami AIA Leadership in Government Award.

    Ms. Nardi is committed to public service and the enhancement of the community’s health, happiness and prosperity through the implementation of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department’s Planning and Design Excellence, Health and Fitness and Conservation Pillars. She has worked in the public sector 20 years where her vision for a sustainable and resilient community focuses on the attribute that every great community has a great park system.

  • Open or CloseLisa Paradis, CPRP

    Senior Consultant, BerryDunn

    Lisa Paradis is a Senior Consultant in BerryDunn’s Parks and Recreation Practice. Based in Boston, Paradis has 25 years of experience as a public Parks and Recreation Director, and was VP and Principal with 110% Inc. until 2019. As a consultant, leader, mentor and often provocateur, she helps organizations and communities achieve new heights by embracing systemic challenges through bold, action-oriented strategic planning, and financial and organizational management.

    Paradis is a nationally known speaker, trainer and facilitator with a wealth of knowledge to share on health, wellness and recreation. She was inducted into the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in 2018.

    Her experience includes helping clients with master and strategic planning, feasibility studies, cost recovery and financial sustainability modeling. She travels nationally to present leadership training and workshops on a broad array of parks and recreation topics.

  • Open or ClosePaula Sliefert

    Senior Marketing Manager, The Toro Company

    Paula Sliefert joined The Toro Company in 2007 and currently serves as senior marketing manager in the company’s commercial business. In her role, she has responsibility for supporting a number of Toro’s key industry relationships, as well as helping to develop and implement strategies targeted at growing the sportsfields and grounds market segments, which represent professional and collegiate sports, educational institutions and government including federal, state and local entities. Additionally, Sliefert serves on the Board of Directors for City Parks Alliance. 

  • Open or CloseDr. Shonnda Smith, CPRP, AFO

    Senior Director, City of Mobile, Alabama, Parks and Recreation

    Dr. Shonnda Smith is the Senior Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Mobile. In her previous post as Chief Programming Officer at New Orleans Recreation Development Commission, Dr. Smith led the vision and services of six divisions: Special Programs, Aquatics, Athletics, Recreation/Tennis Centers, Marketing and Public Relations. She developed, reviewed and analyzed all programs, events and activities, as well as projected the financial needs and resources by reviewing and analyzing current fiscal conditions. Dr. Smith created and managed a yearly budget of 10.5 million dollars and communicated regularly with the Board of Commissioners, New Orleans Development Foundation, local and state officials, non-profit organizations, media, and the general-public. Dr. Smith attended California State University Long Beach, in Long Beach, California where she earned a BA in Kinesiology and a Masters in Sports Management. She also holds a Doctorate Degree in Education (Ed. D), from Nova Southeastern University, in Organizational Leadership and Human Services Administration.

  • Open or CloseAnne-Marie Spencer

    Vice President, Corporate Marketing and Communications, PlayCore

    Anne-Marie Spencer is the corporate vice president of marketing for PlayCore in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and works within the company's Center for Professional Development. Throughout her career, she has written 23 books and more than 150 articles. She also serves on the board of directors for the Chambliss Children's Center in Chattanooga, and enjoys working out and advocating for play and recreation.

  • Open or CloseStephen Springs

    Senior Principal, Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects

    Stephen Springs is a senior partner at Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects, based in Dallas, Texas, a 45-year-old firm specializing in public architecture. His more than 24 years of award-winning civic recreation and aquatic design work has often been recognized in print. He has served on multiple recreation design award juries and has shared his expertise by authoring numerous periodical articles about planning and designing quality-of-life projects. He has been an advocate for parks and recreation by serving as a municipal parks commissioner, a city plan commissioner, and by walking the halls at his state legislature. Springs is frequently an educational speaker at various state and national recreation industry conferences, and has guest lectured at Texas State University’s Recreation Administration Division.

    Some of his notable projects include “America’s first Baby Boomer center,” The Summit, in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Das Rec in New Braunfels, Texas. The Summit was the cover story in Parks & Recreation magazine, “Excellence by Design,” in March of 2011. Das Rec was profiled in “The Social Equity Issue” in October of 2017.