Longtime city executive Angela Means began leading the Austin Parks and Recreation Department as interim director this spring, following the recent departure of former Director Kimberly McNeely.

"Director Means is excited to help lead the Parks and Recreation Department's mission of inspiring Austin to learn, play, protect and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places," department spokesperson Kanya Lyons said in an email.

The overview

Means rejoined Austin's parks department in her new role on May 28, soon after the announcement McNeely would be leaving to serve as CEO of The Trail Conservancy nonprofit.

Means has more than 25 years of experience in local government administration, according to the city. That includes several leadership roles across Austin's parks, code, development services and housing departments, and past city finance and budgeting roles in San Diego.

As interim parks director, Means is now working to align the department's operations with Austin's long-range Our Parks, Our Future plan adopted in 2019, Lyons said, "allowing the community’s vision for the future to take the driver’s seat."

Additionally, Means plans to prioritize:
  • Community engagement and participation, with improved community partnerships and feedback opportunities, such as public forums or workshops
  • Sustainability and environmental stewardship, with new parks operation practices and promoting conservation initiatives
  • Accessibility and inclusivity, with park facility enhancements and new programming for diverse communities
  • Infrastructure improvement and maintenance, with upgrades to existing park infrastructure as well as new facilities and amenities
  • Expanding recreational and educational programs, with school and community collaborations for all ages
  • Funding and resource allocation to support park projects and activities
"By focusing on these priorities, Interim Director Means is committed to creating a vibrant and sustainable park system that reflects the community’s aspirations and promotes a high quality of life for all residents," Lyons said.

What's next

While Means is managing Austin's parks system on an interim basis, the city will be seeking a permanent department head.

A national recruitment process for the full-time parks director position is now in early stages, according to the city human resources department. A job posting is expected to be available soon.