May the Coming Year Bring Success to You!

Spotlight Professional in Parks & Recreation - Leslie Bryson

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.
For the past year, I have served as the Director of Bellingham Parks and Recreation

How long have you been with your present agency?
I been with the City of Bellingham Parks and Recreation Department since 1994.

Background experience and previous careers?
Prior to becoming Director, I served as the Department's Development Manager, responsible for planning and implementation of our parks capital facilities, including land acquisition, park and trail development and open space preservation.

What were some of your first jobs, and what did you learn from them?
Immediately after college, I worked for a few years in City Planning.  That experience gave me a good perspective the importance of community involvement and an understanding of the development process.

Why are you passionate about the parks and recreation field?
I grew up in a small town in the mid-west.  The center of our community was the park where we learned to swim, played tennis and softball in the summer and ice skated in the winter.   From the local level to the national level, parks, trails and open space are so important to our health and well-being; they provide a connection to our natural environment, and to each other.

What has been your biggest professional challenge?
Trying to meet the demands of a growing community when there is never enough funding.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone starting out in the field of parks and recreation?
Be flexible.  I wasn't able to find a job in Parks and Recreation immediately out of college, but I did get a job in a related field that provided valuable experience.