2021 Slate of candidates

We are pleased to present for your consideration the proposed slate of candidates for the APRA Board of Directors.
 
Each year the board strives to find the right balance of strategic thinking and tactical know-how to advance APRA's strategic goals.  Through their experience, perspectives and contributions, they will help to grow and advance APRA and the parks and recreation community throughout the State of Arizona. The candidates are proven leaders within their own organizations and will join a group of dedicated and experienced board members, led by next year’s President, Linda Ayres.  Members will receive the link to vote via email and will have until November 15, 2020 to complete. 

This year, in addition to voting for incoming officers, we ask all members to approve the recently updated Association Bylaws. APRA Bylaws were updated to reflect the recent goals and objectives that came out of last year's updated strategic plan. In order for bylaws to pass, all members are encouraged to vote on the proposed updates. To review a copy of updates approved by your APRA Board of Directors, CLICK HERE.

Each candidate was asked the same set of questions, below you can view their answers. 

For the Office of President

This position is a three year term beginning January 2021 Vice President, 2022 President Elect and 2023 President.

The President acts as the presiding office of the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and all membership meetings. Interpret the policies and decisions of the Board to the membership at large. Act as the official representative for the Association and as the spokesperson for professional parks and recreation interests. Establish and maintain communications and good working relationships with professional organizations and agencies through personal visits and other communications.


Miranda Gomez

City of Avondale

Parks and Recreation Deputy Director

View Miranda's Resume

What tools/resources do you utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks and Recreation profession, and where would you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years?

I regularly utilize both national and local forums, groups and discussion boards. The NRPA Community discussion boards offers a treasure trove of information sharing along with social media groups. I am also an avid reader of national and local publications and a huge fan of networking. Given our current situation with COVID-19, it will be imperative for cities to lean on each other for information gathering and best practice sharing. We are in uncharted territory where no one has the answers. Working together will allow our state to find ways to continue to provide vital services in a safe manner.

Detail your involvement with APRA over the past 3 – 5 years.

I served as the APRA Conference Co-Chair in 2016 and have since served on the conference committee and specifically as the Awards Chair since. I regularly participate in Director roundtables and out of conference forums.

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills do you have that would most benefit the Association (and ultimately the membership) if serving in the the position? 

It will be my job as President to ensure that members from all agencies are involved and that the association is serving to meet their needs. My extensive experience with the association prepares me for this role in connecting agencies from all over the state.

What approach would you employ towards identifying potential training opportunities and how would you determine their overall effectiveness in meeting the needs of the membership?

With travel and budgets limited as a result of COVID, it is time to get creative. Short trainings that can be attended virtually and affordably may be the way to go. Also, looking to our partners nationally that may have resources that we don't will be a way to continue to provide training through this time. Once restrictions are lifted, it will be imperative to resume some networking activities, especially for those new to our field. Young professionals and those who are new to Arizona have missed a full year of networking opportunities. Small, local gatherings can be offered at outdoor venues that are easy to drop by and participate in.

As President, you will oversee discussions at the Board level that include multiple agendas, numerous wants and desires of members, and meeting the goals and objectives outlined in the governing documents of APRA, as well as meeting the revenue needs of the Association.

Describe your experience in leading a board and the use of Robert’s Rules of Order, and your preferred process to reach consensus in this scenario.


In my role as Interim Director for the City of Buckeye and Assistant Director for both the City of Buckeye and the City of Avondale it was my role to lead the Advisory Board meetings as well as to present to City Council on a regular basis, all of which utilize Robert's Rules of Order. When seeking consensus on issues that are controversial (or not), I keep groups on task and work toward accomplishing the end goal. Our charge is to do what's best for the association and its membership, and that is what I pledge to do.



North Region Representative

The Region Representative is a two year term. Regional Representatives are the liaison between members in their area and the APRA Board. The Region Rep serve as a voting member on the Board of Directors, assist the Program Committee to coordinate needed events and trainings within the region, conduct meetings for members in region and regularly communicate association business with region constituents.

Represents Pinal, Pima and Santa Cruz counties.


Lynn Cormier

City of Page

Parks and Recreation Director

View Lynn's Resume

What tools/resources do you utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks and Recreation profession, and where would you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years?

Both the APRA and the NRPA offer a great insight to "What's New" and "What's Upcoming" in Parks and Recreation. The NRPA tends to defer to a more global approach, some of which is difficult to relate to in regards to logistics, culture, and funding. It's interesting, nonetheless, but sometimes a bit difficult to cognate. The APRA has been more approachable in that regards. It offers a more pragmatic approach to Arizona and the unique issues that we deal with here.

There is always a lot of information to absorb from the different Recreation and Sports magazines; they tend to offer a glimpse of what "cutting edge" means on a narrower-scope, within their specialized recreational activity. The internet is an amazing outlet for a more acute vision into the future; it is an extremist's glimpse of what's to come or what's being tried elsewhere. I also like to reach out directly to a field expert or parties of interest to get their take on the progress of their sport/activity in order to gain a better idea or fulfill a knowledge deficit.

The United States is in the midst of an election year. Knowing what outcome will be produced from each party line will create both challenges and upcoming changes. COVID-19 has affected the way Americans interact. Thought will need to be placed within each decision to ensure the public's safety and comfort. The way our kids are being schooled, the disposable income of each household, and how quickly our country bounces back from this epidemic will affect every decision that is made for many years to come. There will need to be definite thought and insight into each objective in order to maximize gains and advances within the Parks, Recreation and Leisure.

Detail your involvement with APRA over the past 3 – 5 years.

Last year, I attended the APRA Conference in Oro Valley; it was fabulous! I thoroughly enjoyed all of the classes, lectures, vendors and individuals who I was introduced to. At the time, the previous City Manager linked me up with Krista VanderMolen. She was a wealth of information! Our city hosted one of the Playground Maintenance Courses, so it was interesting to see how all of that worked in conjunction with the APRA. Following the conference, I drove to Fountain Hills to meet with Rachael Goodwin. We connected through identical issues with our school district MOU's, among other things, so I used her as a sounding board to help. I also drove back down to Oro Valley and met with Kristy Diaz-Trahan. She was a plethora of information in regards to golf courses, as the City of Page had just taken control back of our municipal course.

The connections that I made with that one conference were amazing. It spoke volumes of the way the program was run and the amazing people who both orchestrated it, as well as those who attended. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year's virtual conference. My father fell and broke his hip; within three weeks he had died. All of this coincided with the conference timing. Planning a funeral in the midst of an epidemic has proved to be very difficult and frustrating. Hopefully, next year everything will be back-on-track with the conference, as everyone would prefer a physical location to a computer screen!

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills do you have that would most benefit the Association (and ultimately the membership) if serving in the the position? 

The primary function of this position needs to be communication and interconnection. The northern part of Arizona is extremely rural. There is a prevailing sense of isolation which needs to be overcome. It would be very interesting to get to know more individuals in the Northern Region. Cynthia Nemeth has been a good asset and point of reference of mine for the past couple years. Being an energetic and outgoing individual, it would be an interesting challenge to see if we could somehow unite this group, but I look forward to this endeavor. 

What approach would you employ towards identifying potential training opportunities and how would you determine their overall effectiveness in meeting the needs of the membership?

Identification of training opportunities can occur through the polling of individuals, a meeting-of-the-minds, or even an "aha" moment when you realize that a need is prevalent. I am one of those individuals who asks a lot of questions. Going into any situation with blinders-on is usually not my style. I like to listen and then analyze.

Currently, I have seven (7) departments within my CRS division within the City. We have a group meeting each month, at which time, I try to employ some sort of professional development onto all my managers. Finding a creative way to present the information is paramount to getting them to understand and absorb the information.


Jak Teel

City of Cottonwood

Parks and Recreation Manager

View Jak's Resume

What tools/resources do you utilize to stay on the cutting edge in the Parks and Recreation profession, and where would you look to gain insight into what lies ahead as far as challenges and changes in the next five years?

I am big on asking questions. Not only to other Parks and Recreational Professionals or the public but neighboring organizations and community partners. I believe the fundamentals of Parks and Recreation revolve around engaging our communities, with an emphasis on children and youth. I work closely with our school districts and libraries to make sure we are driving these areas forward together. Partnering for success, specifically in rural areas, is an absolute must as resources are scarce. Lastly, education and development are major components of being successful. Working with both the national and state-level agencies is fundamental in regards to staying on the trends and what is coming up.

Detail your involvement with APRA over the past 3 – 5 years.

As a Parks and Recreation Professional, I have attended the annual APRA conference over the past three years, volunteering as much as I could. I try to be an active member who involves themselves within the discussions. I have attended forums for sports, special events, and aquatics and believe I contribute to the betterment of the group. I stay involved by openly sharing what is working, and what isn't, not only for my organization but for all of the Verde Valley region.

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills do you have that would most benefit the Association (and ultimately the membership) if serving in the the position? Please provide examples of your experience.

I believe the role of this position is to be a facilitator. Someone who will openly accept and initiate questions while facilitating discussions to address the issues. As a leader of my organization, I pride myself on asking questions to gather information to help make informed decisions through discussion. I use many different strategies that not only allow for discussion but encourage people to think differently and engage in building on their professional skills. A recent example of this is the Six Hat Thinking Model I used with my team last week to solve a problem. Activities like this help to encourage participation by eliminating the unknown aspect that is scary for people while having people focus strictly on a singular element of the discussion. I chose hats for people that I felt were areas they could each focus on to help with professional development. An example of this would be, I put a team member who is a known analyzer in the situation of the Red Hat - knee jerk reaction. This activity encourages them to step outside of their comfort zone but doing it in a highly controlled environment to minimize their level of discomfort.

As a board member, I would bring a thought process like this to the table. I view leadership as linear, this allows us to put the best person for the job in a position to be successful. Leaders do not always have to be the ones in front. In fact, I value good followership abilities just as high, as it takes a team to be successful. This mindset is what I would bring to the organization to help further its efforts in the field.

What approach would you employ towards identifying potential training opportunities and how would you determine their overall effectiveness in meeting the needs of the membership?

I would start by doing a quick needs assessments for the region and breaking that down into further segments so we can try to get as specific and local to the needs as possible. Once we gathered the information and identified the need, we could begin to brainstorm what providing those opportunities could look like. I would partner this with a resource assessment to see what our capacity is. We would identify the individual skills and abilities of our network and the physical resources we have at our disposal and pair those with the needs that are required. Throughout people's careers, they acquire unique skills that not everyone is aware of. Asking those questions that allow people to acknowledge that skill and its relation to the project is an important first step in a resource assessment.


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