2020 Virtual Speaker Biographies
Jody Baker (Sapulpa Parks)
BIO: Jody Baker is currently Director of Parks and Recreation for Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He has served the profession in many different capacities through roles throughout the state of Oklahoma in parks and recreation.
Michael Bradley (Arkansas Tech University / Red Dirt Consulting)
BIO: Michael Bradley is an Associate Professor in the Parks, Recreation, & Hospitality program at Arkansas Tech University and the Principal Consultant for Red Dirt Consulting where research is conducted to identify and understand user groups & identify preferences, trends, and behaviors. Beyond his consulting role, Dr. Bradley is a well published and respected researcher in the field of Parks and Recreation.
Bill Hachmeister (Aquatix by Landscape Structures)
BIO: Bill Hachmeister is the Channel Development Manager for Aquatix™ by Landscape Structures. Bill has been in the water park industry for 23 years working with national aquatic consultants, landscape architects, park & recreation departments designing spray parks, aquatic centers, water parks and resorts. Bill is AFO (Aquatic Facility Operator) Certificated and is a member of the ASTM F-24.7 aquatic safety committee, is a member of the Council of Model Aquatic Health Code. Bill is one of seven members directed by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) to revise the code pertaining to splash pads and interactive fountains. He is also on the NRPA Splash Pad Advisory Panel.
Bill is a published author for various articles for several park and recreation, and water park, publications on the subjects of safety, design, maintenance, budgeting and construction.
Barbara Heller (NRPA Directors School Instructor)
BIO: 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.
John McConkey (Landscape Structures)
BIO: John McConkey serves as Market Research and Insights Manager at Landscape Structures. He brings over 15 years of experience in the healthcare field, and offers a unique perspective on inclusion, health, fitness and children’s play on the playground. John researches and tracks societal and industry trends to help create innovative design solutions. The focus of his recent educational development programs include playground universal design and inclusion, designing playgrounds to maximize physical activity, reconnecting children with nature, and designing literacy-rich play environments.
Jill Moore (Landscape Structures)
BIO: 3+ Years with Landscape Structures as a continuing education presenter. Over 100+ state shows and webinars on inclusive play topics, fitness focused design and multi-generational park and play design.
Eric Newell (City of Ponca City)
BIO: Eric has a Masters degree and over 15 years experience in Parks and Recreation and is currently the Director in Ponca City. Eric has experience in the state of ID as well in the park and recreation industry and brings an exciting approach to the day to day operations of Parks and Recreation.
Tom O’Rourke (Clemson University)
BIO: 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 Foundation 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 grandchildren. 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.
Suzanne Quinn (Kompan Playgrounds and Fitness)
BIO: Suzanne Flannery Quinn, PhD (Syracuse University, USA) is the manager of KOMPAN Play Institute, Americas. Suzanne was formerly a Senior Lecturer and Programme convener of the MA Early Childhood Studies at the University of Roehampton, London, Froebel College, where she was a research member of the Early Childhood Research Centre. Suzanne conducts international research on a range of issues related to young children, their families, and pedagogues who work with children and families. Suzanne has expertise in Froebelian pedagogic principles, particularly those related to play, materials, activities, and environments. Suzanne is one of the editors of the 2018 Routledge Handbook of International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education along with J. L. Roopnarine, J. E. Johnson, and M. Patte.
Annie Thompson (Santa Clara County Parks)
BIO: Annie has worked in regional parks and open space for 14+ years in the areas of design, planning, capital projects, and executive management. She is currently the Deputy Director for Planning, Development & Land Stewardship. She has recently honed a specialization in Positive Psychology which she enthusiastically shares with other leaders.
Rico Velazquez & Mike Cook (Musco Sports Lighting)
BIO: Rico and Mike have over 23 years’ experience in the sports lighting with the leader in the industry. At the end of 2020 Rico will take over for Mike.
Stephanie Williams (Norman Public Schools)
Bio: Stephanie Williams has been with Norman Public Schools since 2005. She has been both a teacher and an administrator in the district. Prior to her role as Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion she served as the Principal of Longfellow Middle School. She has also served the district as Freshman Academy Principal at Norman North High School and as Assistant Principal at Whittier Middle School. Williams taught Pre-Algebra/Algebra at Irving Middle School for five years and prior to that taught in Oklahoma City. She also was selected as Oklahoma Assistant Principal of the Year in 2018 by The Cooperative Council of Oklahoma Secondary Administrators’ (CCOSA) organization.
Williams professional memberships include the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). She serves as a Regional Representative for Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals (OASSP) and on the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education’s Education Professions Division Advisory Council at the University of Oklahoma. Williams also served on the City of Norman Human Rights Commission Inclusiveness Subcommittee.
Nick Whisenhunt (Cunningham Recreation)
BIO: As a native Oklahoman and having 14 years of experience in the playground industry, I have worked with both public and private sector customers on a myriad of different types of projects. The one common goal with each being they want to deliver the best project and overall experience to the users.
BIO: Jeff's presentation encourages seizing the day over seizing our phones, helping pull back the curtain on how our electronic devices are stealing our attentions. Jeff meshes his own screen distraction story with his 23 years as a nationally touring stand-up comedian to deliver an impactful and highly entertaining presentation that helps us understand what we’re up against in getting individuals off their screens and outdoors.