We know that great parks exist through the efforts of leaders who nurture and strengthen the bond between the parks and communities of which they are a part. Park Pride’s Annual Inspiration Awards honor these leaders:
Linda emerged as a champion of the Sandy Springs Conservancy in 2001 when she served as a founding board member and then later went on to serve as Executive Director until her retirement in 2015. Her collaborative attitude has forged a cadre of friends and volunteers for the Conservancy and has made Linda the go-to person for counsel on greenspace in Sandy Springs for the media, land and homeowners, elected officials, schools and civic groups, and more. She is a hands-on leader, a trustworthy partner and an influential park advocate.
Dave understands the benefits of natural greenspace and for years has been a tireless proponent of parks where nature is the playground. His ability to see beyond the conventional definition of “playing in a park” has enabled parks such as Constitution Lakes, Johns’ Homestead, and Clyde Shepard Nature Center to become integral parts of their communities. While Dave has retired from his position as DeKalb County’s Greenspace Environment Manager, he will continue to serve the environment and community with his enthusiastic participation in various park projects.
Jennie Drake Park is the jewel of Collier Heights thanks to the leadership of Pauline Drake. Pauline worked tirelessly for years to bring her mother’s dream for a park to fruition. Organizing brick sales and hosting workdays out of her childhood home, Pauline’s gumption transformed a collection of empty lots into a place where children now play in the creek and neighbors enjoy a quiet walk on a beautiful nature trail, creating a place where the community truly connects.
Atlanta’s local play expert is a defender of children’s right to play. After a terrible accident struck her neighborhood, Cynthia found her calling through her first project of raising funds for a memorial playground. Since then, she’s dedicated her life to researching play, encouraging play and playing with her grandkids. Cynthia is the Founding Director of Play Atlanta, a nonprofit that advocates for play, helps communities set a vision for a playful environment, advises developers on integrating play spaces throughout projects, educates about the importance of play, and much more.
Ronald is a proven master when it comes to positive park activation. From the park to schools, he brings play and good, clean family fun to a community that is often under served. He is an outspoken advocate for current and future parks in the Ellenwood Community. Creating a space where children can safely play and teens can engage in sports instead of getting into trouble motivated him to continue a family tradition of organizing the 19th Annual County Line / Ellenwood Roundup.
At Frazier-Rowe Park, Karl Schultz’s big idea is helping others achieve their big ideas. His magnetic, can-do attitude has made him an inspiration not just to his fellow Friends of the Park members, but to the community’s youth in particular. Karl has mentored four Eagle Scouts through the completion of projects in the park and motivated his daughter to build and install a “little free library” in the park as well. Karl is always the first to lend a hand during volunteer workdays, and in the case of the construction of the park’s new entrance arbor and playground, a strong arm too!
Esther is a firm believer that all Atlantans in all neighborhoods should have access to quality parks, and she has relentlessly pursued her mission to see this vision through to fruition. Her involvement in parks and greenspace spans 18 years, over which time she’s served on the board and as board chair of both Park Pride and the Piedmont Park Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, the Georgia Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and the Atlanta Audubon Society.
Congratulations award winners, and thank you for all you do for parks, greenspace, and our community!