September Spotlight Professional

Corey Delikat, City of Port Angeles

Describe the scope of your position in parks and recreation.   

As Director of the City of Port Angeles Parks & Recreation Department, I manage more than 300 acres of City-owned property with 18 FTEs. The properties consist of 30 parks, 18 facilities including three stadiums, a cemetery, a senior center, and a community center. Our department is primarily maintenance-driven with a small recreation division. We pride ourselves on being more of a facilitator of recreation within the community by providing athletic fields, parks, and facilities. The best part of being a Director for the City of Port Angeles is the collaboration and teamwork with each department and our City Manager. Although we all have our own departments to run, we work as a team to solve City and community issues.

How long have you been with your present agency? 

I have somewhat of a unique story with my agency. I started working for the Port Angeles Parks & Recreation Department in 1991 as a summer help when I was a 17-year-old high school student. My duties involved picking up trash, cleaning restrooms, and emptying garbage cans in our parks. I remember it like it was yesterday and thought how amazing it was that I was able to work in the same park system that I grew up playing in as a child. Twenty-six years later, I still work for the Port Angeles Parks & Recreation Department and I am now the Director. I can’t put into words how meaningful it is to have reached my goal of becoming the director and how special it is that I get to do it in my hometown.

Background experience and previous careers?

City government, particularly in the Parks & Recreation field, is really the only career I have ever known. Over the course of my 26-year career, I held nine different positions within the department which has allowed me to grow as an employee of the City and understand all facets of the department. I knew I would not be able to meet my career goal and become a director until I received my bachelor’s degree, so in 2007 I went back to college to finish the degree I started when I was a seasonal employee years prior. It took me three years to finish while also working full-time. In 2010, I received my bachelor’s degree in business management from Peninsula College and in 2013 I was named the director of the department.

What were some of your first jobs, and what did you learn from them?

One of my first responsibilities was athletic field maintenance, which included maintaining seven of our youth little league fields. I would say there are a number of things that I learned during that time, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is how quickly I learned how dedicated the Parks & Recreation employees are and how proud the community is of the work we do. This community pride inspired me as an employee to provide the best possible service I could to our citizens no matter what position I was in.

Why are you passionate about the parks and recreation field?

I think Parks & Recreation employees are some of the most passionate employees that I have seen in any industry or profession. Again, I think it is because of the pride employees feel giving back to the community. We provide services that are very visible to the public and employees take pride in showing their talents. I knew from the first day on the job that this was the industry I wanted to pursue a career in because it was amazing to me the passion and the hard work my coworkers had toward their work. This positive energy was contagious and made work fun. To this day, there isn’t a morning I don’t wake up and love going to work. It was the passion and encouragement of many of my current coworkers who inspired me to pursue my dream of becoming our department’s next director.

What has been your biggest professional challenge? 

Two things stand out to me the most. The first challenge has been increasing the amount of infrastructure our department is responsible for maintaining without increasing the number of FTEs to maintain these community assets. Although it is great to have new things for the community to use, we have not received any additional employees to maintain the infrastructure. To change this, our City Council recently approved a new financial policy which states that no new infrastructure will be added without adding the proper staff to maintain it. My second largest challenge is, over the last 10 years our Recreation Manager and Park Superintendent positions were eliminated, so I do not have any mid-managers within my department. This has meant juggling responsibilities within the department to cover the same level of services

What’s the best advice you can give to someone starting out in the field of parks and recreation? 

My overall advice to anyone beginning their career, regardless of what they decide to do, is to never stop pursuing your dreams because it is such a rewarding feeling when you reach that goal. However, once you do reach your goal, it is important that you don’t stop there. Get creative, rethink your priorities, and create new goals to pursue. Always push yourself to new levels!