BCRPA Board Election is open
- The election is open for the 2023 Board of Directors from Wed, March 22 to Tue, April 4 at 11:59 pm PDT. Voting links will be sent to members by email. Please check your Inbox and Junk/Spam folders. If you haven’t received a voting link, please send us an email.
- View the Board Election webpage for more information on the 11 Board Candidates.
BCRPA Board of Directors
BCRPA Past Presidents
2022 / 2023 BCRPA Board of Directors
General Manager / Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
My mom worked at the local rec centre. After soccer practice I would ride my bike to meet her and watch the rest of the lacrosse games for the night. It was pure joy being in that energy. When she had to work Saturday mornings I would tag along and attend hockey drop-in for 4 hours!!! Being at the local centre was just a normal part of my childhood.
Upon graduating from University my mom advised me not to work for the municipality as there was a glass ceiling for women; she also introduced me to the community development coordinator who offered me a volunteer opportunity. I started to help and then was offered a job.
I thought it was not possible to love what I was doing and make a living. I took the job and found it was my dream job programming for youth and seniors. Every job since has been my dream job and now I find myself making a living at what I just naturally fell into.
Glass ceiling smashed!!
Donnie Rosa is General Manager, Parks, Recreation and Culture for the City of Vancouver. Prior to this, she was the General Manager, Parks, Recreation and Culture for the City of Coquitlam, and previously the Director of Recreation for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. An avid hockey player and coach, dragon boater, yoga student, and humanist, Donnie is proud to be a career recreationist!
Donnie began her career in the City of Mississauga, working her way from a volunteer to Manager of the program. Later, as the Director of Recreation and Culture for the City of Brampton, she assisted the City to win the bid to deliver the Canada 55+ Games on its 20th anniversary, introduced a program to eliminate barriers to participation, and assisted in sustaining the Special Needs Adult Program Services Ontario, and also gained experience in Parks operations, operating the city’s two destination parks. Her career has been focused on driving visionary change through innovation, as well as leading organizational changes which result in greater access to recreation and culture. She is looking forward to contributing to BCRPA.
This is Donnie’s fifth year on the BCRPA Board of Directors. Donnie served one two-year term as Director, and two years as President-Elect. This is her first year as President on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
On May 27, 2021, BC Alliance for Healthy Living conducted an interview with Donnie Rosa on her story about overcoming gender inequities within sport and recreation and explains her responsibility as a leader to remove barriers to participation.
You can listen to the podcast at: SoundCloud, Spotify, and iTunes.
General Manager, Community Services / Richmond
Throughout high school and university I was a lifeguard and swim instructor. While I loved the work, seeing children learn, watching people connect and have fun I didn’t plan to make a career of it.
As I was graduating I was encouraged to apply for a programming job and the rest as they say is history. I continued to grow, learn and develop my leadership skills and as a result was able to progress through a series of more challenging positions. At one point I also went back to school part time and completed my MBA. I believe this also opened new doors for me.
I am so grateful for the many opportunities, mentorship, and learnings along the way. Building healthy, active and connected individuals and communities is a rewarding and dynamic adventure every day!
Elizabeth Ayers is General Manager of Community Services at the City of Richmond. She has been a participant and leader in the recreation and parks field for over 30 years. Her strong background in the field has been gained from working in four progressive municipalities: Oak Bay, Surrey, Abbotsford, and Richmond. She has managed all areas of recreation including aquatics, arenas, community recreation, sports, and parks programs. She has also worked with a variety of operating models including direct delivery, contract services, partnerships, as well as the Community Association model used in Richmond. She has extensive experience working with not-for-profit boards, and is an active volunteer in her own community.
She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Victoria, a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from the University of British Columbia, and is a Leadership Vancouver Graduate. She is a believer in continuing education and continues to take a variety of courses, and attends workshops and conferences to remain current in the recreation and parks sector.
This is Elizabeth’s fifth year on the BCRPA Board of Directors. Elizabeth has served two two-year terms as Director. This is her first year serving as President-Elect.
Director, Recreation Services (Acting) / Squamish
You can't connect the dots looking forward – I was a lifeguard, swim instructor and camp counsellor in my teens. Being Director of Recreation & Cultural Services feels like coming home and connected the dots for me.
I started my career in local government a bit later in life. In 2018 I jumped at the chance to work for the District of Squamish in the Manager of Filming & Events. At the time, the District was looking for a manager to work with major planned events to ensure the community’s needs were represented.
Outside of festival management, it also quickly became clear there was the need for an expanded arts & culture role in our community and I dove in, bringing groups around Squamish together in more strategic ways.
Early on, I’d realized the alignment of recreation sector with my values and was thrilled at the opportunities available to build connections with my community and continue working to connect people (mostly children) to experiences through programs and services that enrich their lives. After all, it is our experiences that shape us.
Since August 2019, when I took on the role of Director of Recreation Services (acting) we’ve begun to actively integrate the Arts & Culture realm into Recreation Services; A move I’m excited about and believe will play an important role in ensuring our program and service inventory reflect our entire community.
Devon Guest lives, works and plays on the traditional territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, and loves being outdoors on bikes and skis with daughter, dog and husband in tow.
My natural inclination is to talk to people. I like stories and knowing your why. I’m curious about your work, values, and vision.
I have previously served on the boards in both the sport and social service realm. Most recently with the Howe Sound Women's Centre in Squamish.
In my current position as Director, Recreation Services (acting), I lead a team of 80+ individuals in the strategic, and operational work of supporting the community in recreation and culture, programs, and services. I'm responsible for the financial operations and budget of $3M.
The District of Squamish is growing rapidly, and on the cusp of moving from a small to medium sized municipality. I recognize the opportunities that come from experiencing rapid growth while balancing two models of local government; the Regional District (SLRD) and the District of Squamish (DOS), which position me well to contribute to the diverse membership of the BCRPA.
Staff and colleagues have commented on my ability to lead during the COVID-19 pandemic. There have certainly been ups and downs, but the work of Squamish Recreation & Culture is grounded in our shared values of fostering community and service delivery, which are aligned with the vision of BCRPA.
This is Devon’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Manager of Recreation, Arts and Culture / Penticton
I enrolled in the Recreation & Leisure Management Program at Mohawk College in my hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, out of convenience and thinking that it would just be all fun and games. Little did I know that this somewhat whimsical decision would lead me to find my passion and purpose in life; to connect people and build community through recreation. While attending college, I had the opportunity to work at a local, and somewhat derelict, rec centre and it was a life-changing experience. That little run-down rec centre was the heart and soul of the neighbourhood. It was a safe space, a guaranteed afternoon snack, strong role-models, and most importantly, kindness and inclusion for all.
Shortly after graduation, the mountains of BC called my name, so I packed my bags with one goal in mind; to make an impact in municipal rec. It was a slightly haphazard plan at the time, but it worked out and I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I am incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities this fulfilling career has given me and ever so grateful to work with and learn from such talented professionals in the field.
It's been a fun ride so far, and I'm looking forward to all the years to come.
Kelsey Johnson is Manager of Recreation, Arts and Culture for the City of Penticton. With over 10 years of experience in recreation services, Kelsey Johnson has proven herself to be a proactive visionary committed to advancing and advocating for recreation and community services. Recipient of the 2019 CPRA Emerging Leader Award, Kelsey has been nationally recognized as a dedicated professional who has a strong foundation in recreation services and has made significant contributions to their community.
Known for her creative solutions and strategic thinking, Kelsey is a trusted leader focused on building strong connections with staff, volunteers and community partners. Kelsey understands the importance of providing clear guidance, direction and support that aligns with organizational priorities and best serves the community. A true advocate for access to recreation, Kelsey has built trusting relationships with community and social service providers to advance access to recreation opportunities and increase overall awareness of the benefits and vital importance of recreation to communities and the greater good.
This is Kelsey’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Community Recreation Manager / Langley Township
I was lucky enough to find positions that allowed me to remain a pool rat and a gym rat throughout my later high school and university years. I worked at the pool as a lifeguard, swim instructor, and aquatic fitness leader and on the fitness side as a weight room and group fitness leader. After funding my way through school, it was too late to leave this industry as I was hooked on the good people, sense of community, and buzzing nature of the field.
I count myself very fortunate that I had mentors who believed in me and offered me a full-time role right out of school. The years after that really have just flown by. I have worked and/or volunteered with private enterprises, municipal organizations, non-profit organizations, and charities. What I enjoy most is the connections, watching leaders learn and grow, and serving the community.
Still a pool and gym rat...!
Lauralee has over 20 years of experience working in the sector, all in the province of British Columbia. She has worked and/or volunteered with private enterprises, municipal organizations, non-profit organizations, and charities. Her BCRPA experience includes volunteering at BCFit® and presenting multiple times at Ripple Effects and serving on its planning committee.
Lauralee strongly believes there is a strategic role that recreation and parks can and should play in a just and equitable society. As a practitioner-scholar, Lauralee has a number of research interests where she sees a direct link to the practical application in recreation and parks. They include Indigenous ways of knowing, decolonization, anti-racism, action-oriented engagement, social learning, Communities of Practice, mentorship models, and political framing. She seeks to apply these as a Doctor of Social Sciences student and recreation professional. Entering the third year of a three-year Certified Management Consultant practicum, her key focus areas are environmental stewardship, collaborative innovation, multi-sectoral partnerships, and resource allocation. Lauralee sees boundless potential in the direction of the BCRPA and is keen to contribute to its endeavours.
This is Lauralee’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Manager of Recreation Services / Golden
I have always enjoyed working in positions that help keep people active, smiling and having fun. When compared to many others in the world of local government, my story is unique. Over the years, the professional opportunities that have come my way have all felt like a perfect fit based on the timing in my life. With that, one opportunity has stumbled into another that has led me to the Parks and Recreation Sector.
My passion for mountain biking and developing the sport helped fuel my path to the Recreation Sector. Being involved with trail building activities some 20 years ago lead me on a path to being hired as a mountain bike patroller at Sun Peaks Resort. From this, I started to get involved in hosting larger bike events and races. With this event experience, I shifted my focus to sales, marketing and media relations. As my diversity grew with promoting and working in the resort sector, it was an easy transition to shift to the world of municipal recreation.
When the opportunity to step into the position as Manager of Recreation Services for the Town of Golden, I jumped in, tackled the challenge and didn't look back.
There are so many great things about this field that continuously motivates me to do more. Helping provide a positive impact on the quality of life in my own community is a rewarding position, and it keeps me motivated to do more and encourage others to get involved. Working with the public to make their favourite sport grow and transforming park spaces to cater to all are some of the most rewarding projects to help bring to life.
As a board member with the BCRPA, the last two years have provided a greater insight into all aspects of the sector and allowed me to share my passion for the sector. I'm keen to continue being involved with the BCRPA board though providing positive contributions to the sector while at the same time improving my own skills.
Jordan Petrovics has served as the Manager of Recreation Services for the Town of Golden for the last eight years. Jordan got his start in the recreation and parks sector working for Kicking Horse and Sun Peaks Resorts in sales, marketing, media relations and events. Proud to call himself a “ski bum” back then, his early days involved sharing his research skills with the Canadian Ski Council, and helping to establish a provincial mountain bike consortium which fueled economic impact studies exploring the benefits of bringing various sports like mountain biking to communities around BC. He also had a hand in crafting the “most entertaining” freeride ski event in his region. Jordan’s experience as a member of multiple boards, clubs and organizations has made him deeply appreciate the value of a long-standing well-functioning governance board like BCRPA.
This is Jordan’s third year on the BCRPA Board of Directors. Jordan is beginning his second two-year term on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Manager of Parks / Surrey
Family camping/hiking/cross-country skiing trips were a regular occurrence for me growing up and, as such, fueled my passion for the great outdoors. This interest, in turn, led me along my post-secondary path in landscape design and natural resources conservation.
When I completed my undergrad at UBC, an opportunity arose within the City of Surrey parks division and I jumped at it (even though it was largely an office-based role working with computers and databases and endless lists)! Through that experience, I came to realize how much I enjoy working and interacting with, supporting, and providing service to colleagues and residents alike!
I have been so privileged to work in such a stimulating and rewarding field for 20 plus years and I am so proud to be part of the team that plans, designs, builds, programs and operates Surrey’s extensive and rapidly growing park system. We are truly connecting people through nature and play.
Our field of recreation and parks is vital to people’s physical, social and emotional well-being and I am thrilled to be part of this ever-changing profession!
Neal Aven is Manager of Parks at the City of Surrey, where he has been working for more than 21 years, delivering professional and inclusive park services for a diverse and rapidly growing community. His approach to leadership is one of authenticity, empowerment and optimism. He has a strong awareness of current practices and trends in the parks and recreation sector and a keen interest in customer service and teamwork. He has a background in natural resources conservation, parks management and urban forestry, and has a keen understanding of environmental issues and a strong understanding of the linkages between parks, environment, tourism, education and public health. He is an active Member of BCRPA and has served on the planning committee for the 2020 and 2021 BCRPA Parks Professional Pathways conferences.
This is Neal’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Parks Services Coordinator / Prince George
I began volunteering for summer day camps at 13 years of age and enjoyed my summers of planning activities for groups of children for eight weeks of the summer. I moved my way up as the years progressed to the position of junior leader position, then leader then senior leader then volunteer coordinator and finally summer program coordinator.
All the while funding my pursuits from high school into University of Calgary. I continued my career at the Trico Centre and worked as duty manager managing the facility and program coordinator. I enjoyed my work but had no idea a career could be carved. Key managers in that facility mentored me into a BA program in Recreation Administration from University of Alberta where I transferred to finish my degree.
My early career started as a program leader and coordinator with the Trico Family Leisure Centre, City of Calgary Parks and Recreation, University of Calgary Be Fit for Life centre until my move to Prince George. My now husband had landed a great job after finishing his degree in Prince George and I followed to work for a few years before our travel adventures began. I couldn’t believe my fortune at landing a job in community recreation with the City of Prince George in 1999.
We fell in love with Prince George’s natural beauty and my husband and I and our three teenage boys enjoy outdoor activities in all the seasons. Now twenty two years later I am just as passionate about community recreation as when I began and looking forward to what comes next.
Robyn McConkey is Parks Services Coordinator for City of Prince George. She has been serving in this role for the past 5 years, but has also been fortunate to work in many areas of recreation with the City, including the City’s beautification and financial assistance program, community development, and direct program delivery. She is passionate about building community pride through engagement, ensuring opportunities for recreation and promoting the use of parks, trails and sport fields. She has been an active member of BCRPA and has served as Regional Liaison for the Cariboo region.
This is Robyn’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services / District of Saanich
My career in community began without me realizing it.
As a high-schooler, I was hired as a summer lifeguard at the outdoor pool in my hometown of Melville, Saskatchewan. By the third summer I was lifeguard and pool manager. These were great jobs and they hooked me on community development and recreation as a professional career.
Today, as Saanich’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services I lead a dynamic and innovative team by leveraging my strategic thinking and relationship building skills and a shared commitment to delivering exceptional public service by embracing progressive best practices.
I’m able to work with the community to provide inspiring places, spaces and experiences where individuals, families and neighbours can connect and grow and where everyone belongs only because someone gave a young person an opportunity.
Let’s all do that.
Suzanne Samborski is Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services for District of Saanich. Suzanne has almost three decades of increasingly responsible local government leadership and management experience in Alberta and British Columbia, including 18-years on Vancouver Island (Esquimalt, Nanaimo and Saanich). She is a community builder that is committed to providing the community with inspiring places and spaces, with opportunities for individuals, families and neighbours to connect and grow, and to create an environment where everyone feels like they belong.
This is Suzanne’s first year on the BCRPA Board of Directors.
Click here to meet our Past Presidents.