Miami-Dade County Parks Director to lead FRPA, as President
Last evening, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Director Jack Kardys was installed as the president for the Florida Recreation and Park Association (FRPA) during its Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Orlando. In the additional role, Kardys will be leading a seven-member Board of Directors, representing 1,600+ FRPA members and more than 270 parks and recreation agencies in the state of Florida.
For the past year, Kardys has served as FRPA’s president-elect, working alongside departing FRPA President Joan Byrne in carrying out the Association’s strategic plan and vision. As the FRPA’s new president, he will continue to guide and represent the Association for the one-year term of the post. This includes representing the FRPA at state-wide educational sessions and meetings attended by professionals who provide parks and recreation services; at Florida legislative sessions, when necessary; and in discussions with external groups such as the Florida Association of Counties, Florida League of Cities, Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and a plethora of state agencies who impact the field of parks and recreation. In this capacity, he will also have the opportunity to share Miami-Dade Parks’ ongoing efforts and contributions.
“I congratulate Jack for being named FRPA President. His great work on behalf of our Parks Department to develop more outstanding parks and recreation opportunities for the health and well-being of all Miami-Dade residents is why he was selected,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “He is a true leader with a long-term vision for Miami-Dade parks through the master plan that promotes ‘green’ neighborhood living through the development of better-connected and sustainable parks and greenways, which will serve as a model for helping cities across this state to live healthier. Jack is one of the best directors Miami-Dade County has. We are all very proud of him.”
Outgoing FRPA President Byrne shared her experiences with the job during her last year in office as well as her well wishes in passing the torch to incoming FRPA President Kardys: "I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Jack during this past year to build a strategic vision for parks and recreation in Florida. The FRPA Presidency provides a special opportunity to meet with key leaders in health care, the environment, economic development and community building and leverage the resources of parks and recreation to positively affect each of these issues in communities throughout the state. I can think of no one better to move our agenda forward during the next year.”
“It is an honor to be inducted as President of the FRPA and look forward to working with the Association’s esteemed members, staff and board of directors,” said Kardys, who has served as Miami-Dade Parks Director since 2007 and began his career there in 1981. “It is my privilege professionally and personally to help lead them in developing new and innovative strategies for advancing state and local park and recreation opportunities that better people’s lives.”
In the recent FRPA announcement, FRPA Executive Director Eleanor Warmack said, “Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces is heralded as a national leader in the field of parks and recreation, and we are pleased and excited to have Jack Kardys as the President of the Florida Recreation and Park Association. His vision for a healthier Florida resulting from well positioned and properly funded parks and recreation agencies, is one that is shared by thousands of individuals passionately working to build community throughout the State.”
As director for the nationally accredited and Gold Medal Award-winning Parks Department, Kardys oversees one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the country with 260 parks on 12,800 acres of land in South Florida. Currently, Miami-Dade Parks serves 2.5 million residents and 10 million visitors annually — certainly a heavy lift, but one for which Kardys is more than up to the task.
With his leadership, Miami-Dade County established a forward-thinking master plan, known as the Miami-Dade County Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan, designed to improve the quality of life of area residents and transform the community into a more livable, loveable and sustainable place to live through a system of great parks, public spaces, natural and cultural areas connected by great greenways, blueways, trails and streets that serve as linear parks. Through collaboration with community partners, this Master Plan is a national model for enhancing Miami-Dade’s health, environment, social well-being, and its economic prosperity.
During his career with the Parks Department, Kardys has also held the title of Assistant Director of Parks Operations and many other high level posts. He has dedicated his entire career to public service, serving Miami-Dade Parks for more than 34 years and securing a number of accolades including the Florida Governor’s Sterling and FRPA Agency Excellence Awards. Kardys also serves as an executive board member on the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Miami-Dade Sports Commission, Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and Zoo Miami Oversight Boards of Directors.
He has also presented and made keynote speeches on Community Health and the Built Environment at APHA, NRPA, City Park Alliance, Active Living Research and FRPA conferences, and has collaborated on research related to the Effectiveness of After-School Programs on Participant Obesity-Related Health Outcomes that has been published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (2015) and the Disability and Health Journal (2014).
Miami-Dade Parks is a world-class parks system supported by the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade and focused on Placemaking, Health and Fitness, and Conservation and Stewardship.