Tom O’Rourke is currently an educator, a parks and recreation consultant, a city council member, a director of two national parks and recreation schools, a high school track and field coach and a speaker.
Tom is in his fifth year as a Professor of Practice in the PRTM Department at Clemson University. His responsibilities include teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels and working with other faculty to assist communities, agencies, and practitioners in a variety of capacities. Tom’s focus at Clemson is in creating innovative and entrepreneurial models and solutions to issues facing the parks and recreation field.
In Tom’s role as a consultant his expertise lies in operational, programmatic, and financial planning for park and recreation agencies and nonprofits. Currently Tom is working on projects in Ohio, Texas, Utah, South Carolina, and Kentucky.
Tom previously served as the Executive Director of The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission from 2001-2019 leading the Agency though the largest capital project, budget, and attendance growth in the agency’s history. During Tom’s tenure at CCPRC the agency grew from 5,000 acres of parkland to over 12,000 acres of protected parkland. CCPRC has been nationally recognized for operating an ever-expanding park system with little reliance on tax subsidies for growth.
Educating professionals in the Parks and Recreation field has always been a significant part of Tom’s work. Tom is a frequent presenter at numerous State, National and International Conferences. He also has served as a member of the Board of Regents for the Revenue Development and Management School, the Supervisors Management School, and also the NRPA Directors School. Tom is currently the Director of the Parks Foundations School held in Oglebay, WV., and the Northern Parks and Recreation Leadership Symposium.
Previously, Tom served as the Executive Director of the Parklands Foundaiton of Charleston County, Inc., he also served as the Director of the Mt. Pleasant Recreation Department in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina. Tom also worked as Manager of the Sports and Recreation Division for Seamon Whiteside and Associates, a Landscape Architect and Engineering firm. Tom’s first job was as a high school Athletic Director and Coach.
Tom has recently been elected as Council Member for the Town of Mt. Pleasant, in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina where he serves as Finance Committee Chair. He has been married to Jackie O’Rourke for 40 years. They have three grown and married children and three grand children. Recreation is Tom’s profession but his passion has always been coaching. When time allows, he serves as a Track and Field coach, (Pole Vault.) He has coached State Championship teams and numerous State Qualifying Pole Vaulters.
2020 Opening Session Speaker
Barbara Heller is a Manager/Practice Lead for Parks and Recreation with BerryDunn, starting in June 2019. Previously she was President of Heller and Heller Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in state and local government, primarily in the parks and recreation industry. Her areas of specialty include: strategic planning, master planning, service quality assessments, operational/organizational reviews, leadership development, facilitation of public input processes, and staff training with clients all over the United States.
She has additional consulting experience with Sasaki Associates and PROS Consulting and has been performing client focused consulting engagements for 14 years.
Previous to consulting experience, Barbara spent over 30 years working at the local government level with a variety of park systems. She was the Executive Director of the Naperville Park District and Elk Grove, Park District, both in Illinois. Heller has held other positions with municipal government organizations in Arlington, TX, Montgomery County, MD and Prince William County, VA.
Her education background includes a master’s degree in public administration from the American University in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University.
She has presented at state and national conferences for the last 25 years and is in her third year as a faculty member for the NRPA Director’s School.