About the Author
Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Two women vie for job of Austin Parks director
Council members and the public met the two finalists Monday for director of
During a noon-hour called meeting, Council members heard from Cindy Curtis, the current Director of Parks and Recreation in
Following a 90-minute meeting and Q-and-A session with Council members, the candidates met with the public at open meetings in the afternoon and evening at the
The two candidates have ties to each other and one has ties to
Curtis and Hensley also seem similar in the way they approach their work. Mayor Will Wynn asked each of them how they would maintain Austin PARD’s status as a national award winning department.
“I believe that workforce development is the key,” said Hensley. “To have a department that excels, you have to have people that excel. The only way to be a nationally recognized program is to have top-notch people. The best way to keep those people is to promote from within.”
Curtis said modernizing the department’s processes is her way to stay on top.
“I’m a Navy brat, and that mean’s I’ve traveled all over. And
Both candidates said they are currently in situations where they are having to make some budget cuts because of their economy. Council Member Randi Shade asked how they approached handling organizational change.
“My first move is to take the pulse of the community,” said Hensley. “There are a lot of needs, but by listening to the community we realized what they wanted in the department. That was a guide for how to evaluate programs and focus the department on what the stakeholders wanted.”
Curtis said her first step was to get a clear picture of where the organization was and where it needed to go.
“As much of a cliché as it is, we peeled back the layers of the organization to get a look at its core,” she said. “We needed to change the culture in order to meet the new mission. We were faced with a situation where as much as 30 percent of the organization could have retired within a year. And we did lose a few people who didn’t want to deal with the changes, but we ended up with a stronger organization.”
Both said that they believed that a city’s Parks Department should be at the table when economic development is being discussed. They also believed in a strong public input component to major decisions.
“My goal is to make the decision very difficult,” for City Manager Marc Ott, he said, “and I believe we have.”
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