Parascondola Brings 19 Years of Experience to Her New Role

From the City of Kent:

Mayor Suzette Cooke announced the appointment of Julie Parascondola as the new director of Kent’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, effective December 5. Parascondola was hired after a nationwide search following the resignation of Jeff Watling in July.

Mayor Cooke said Parascondola brings over 19 years of experience and expertise to Kent.

“Julie is a recognized leader in the field of parks and recreation and brings a passion for the profession and strong understanding of community service by providing, safe and accessible parks and facilities and quality programs. Not only has she worked at one of Washington’s top parks agencies, but she also serves as a member of the national Commission for Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies.

“These qualities are important as we address fiscal sustainability of our parks system overall, and the transformation of our programming in light of our demographics and the city’s funding challenges. With Julie’s background and what she brings to the position, I am very confident in the future and quality of our parks and recreation offerings,” Cooke said.

Parascondola will oversee 117 employees across seven divisions including parks administration, planning and development, operations, facilities, Riverbend Golf Complex, recreation and housing and human services.

Parascondola will also work with the Parks and Recreation Commission to direct the operational, financial, and capital improvement activities of the department. She will oversee the maintenance and development of 68 parks and open spaces covering more than 1,800 acres and an extensive trail network.

“I’m thrilled Mayor Cooke asked me to join her team as the city’s next parks director. I believe passionately in what parks, arts and recreation bring to a community,” said Parascondola.

“It will be a privilege to lead a department that has such an impact on Kent’s economic vitality, the health and well-being of its residents and the overall quality of life.”

Parascondola has worked for Metro Parks Tacoma for the past 19 years. In her most recent role as Regional Parks Manager, Parascondola’s responsibilities include management of Point Defiance Park, the Ruston Way Waterfront, including its marina and boat launch, Fort Nisqually living history museum, visitor center and other facilities, along with managing district-wide public use permitting of parks, signature rentals and long term leases.

Parascondola was a long-time member of the city of Auburn’s Parks and Recreation Board, where similar to Kent’s Parks and Recreation Commission, the group advises elected officials on planning, development, acquisition and management of city parks, recreation facilities and programs.

An Auburn resident, Parascondola is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional and a graduate of the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Directors, Marketing and Revenue, and Executive Development Schools. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in public administration at North Carolina State University.

Cooke thanked Park Operations Superintendent Garin Lee and Housing and Human Services Manager Merina Hanson for ably serving as co-directors during the search process.

“They have done an outstanding job. Kent is fortunate to have such qualified employees step up during this period of transition,” Cooke said. “I’m pleased they are staying on and returning to their prior roles.”