The Big Park Meeting


We know it has been a tough year, and we could all use a boost. So, let’s come together at this year’s virtual Big Park Meeting and focus on what’s good and positive: our communities and our parks!



Part social gathering and part education, this year’s Big Park Meeting will focus on the resilience and adaptability of our parks community. During this two-hour virtual event, we’ll:

  • Celebrate recent wins and local park champions,
  • Translate what we’ve learned / experienced about greenspace and nature during this health crisis into effective advocacy strategies,
  • Strategize around the growing issue of trash in our parks and neighborhoods,
  • Examine techniques for engaging neighbors virtually (and on a budget),
  • Discuss leadership development and transition planning to ensure the continued success of your FOP group,
  • And, most importantly, have the time and space to connect with your park peers from across the city!



9:30 – 9:55 a.m.
Welcome + Opening Remarks

9:55 – 10:35 a.m.
Breakout Sessions

10:35 – 10:45 a.m.

10:45 – 11:10 a.m.
Action Group Breakouts

11:10 – 11:30 a.m.
Closing Panel + Remarks

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.
Optional Networking


Program Details

9:30 – 9:55 a.m. – Welcome + Opening Remarks


The New Case for Parks

Michael Halicki
Executive Director, Park Pride

Parks and the role of Friends of the Park groups have never been more important than they are now. Park Pride’s Executive Director, Michael Halicki, will discuss the recent surge in park use and the renewed focus on parks as critical infrastructure within a livable city.


A Ripple of Positivity

Ellen Bruenderman
Director of Community Building, Park Pride

Kayla Altland
Program Manager, Park Pride

Park Pride’s Community Building Team will share inspirational and uplifting stories from within the network of Friends of the Park groups and highlight how small actions are all that are needed during this chaotic time to spread a ripple of positivity.


9:55 – 10:35 a.m. – Breakout Sessions


Litter Hotspots – From Our Atlanta Parks to the World’s Most Plastic Polluted Beach

Rachel Maher
Director of Communications, Park Pride

Brett Howell
Executive Director and Founder, Howell Conservation Fund

Jon Radtke
Water Sustainability Program Director, Coca-Cola

Jordan Yu 
Watershed Protection Specialist, Chattahoochee River Keeper

How we manage litter and trash in our parks and open spaces can be enormously impactful to our watersheds nearby as well as our coastal environments. In this session, we will discover how trash in our public spaces migrates across the world via our river highway system and discuss local solutions that lead to cleaner parks, creeks and large aquatic ecosystems.


Creative Approaches to Socially Distant Community Engagement

Sabina Kasumova
Public Engagement Specialist, Park Pride

Melody Harclerode
Executive Director, Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Sandy Kruger
Executive Director, Olmsted Linear Park Alliance

The reality of COVID-19 is forcing a rethinking of how to host successful events and fundraisers for our parks projects and communities. In this session, we’ll hear from park stewards and professionals about their challenges and successes with engaging park enthusiasts from a distance.


Developing the Next Generation of Park Stewards

Kayla Altland
Program Manager, Park Pride

Jennifer Guynn
Founder, Pebble Tossers

Mike Fillon
Friends of Tucker Parks’ Orchard Guild

As Friends of the Park groups work to create space for young people to learn, play, and grow today, how can they also support youth in becoming the next Friends of the Park leaders? In this session, we will hear from two groups with extensive youth programming experience on how they approach leadership development and foster meaningful engagement among young park users.


10:35 – 10:45 a.m. – Break


10:45 – 11:10 a.m.- Action Group Breakouts


Leave No Trace

Michael Halicki
Executive Director, Park Pride

Kanika Greenlee
Executive Director, Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission

Moses Tejuoso
Community Affairs Manager, Keep Atlanta Beautiful Commission

This year has seen an both an increase in park use and a concerning strain on essential workers. Join this discussion to strategize about how Friends groups, government agencies, and other partners can work together to address the urgent issue of litter in public parks.


Accessible Solutions for Your Group’s Technological Presence

Marlina McKay
Manager of IT, Park Pride

Tamara Dillard
President, Little Creek Farm Conservancy

It’s more important than ever for people to be able to learn about and interact with your Friends group online. Join Tamara Dillard, President of Little Creek Farm Conservancy, and Marlina McKay, Park Pride’s Manager of IT, to learn and share low-cost tools and tricks for building your technological presence.


Safe & Inclusive Community Engagement Practices

Sabina Kasumova
Public Engagement Specialist, Park Pride

Anamarie Shreeves
Environmental Education Programs Manager, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance

Staying distanced and connecting virtually are easier for some than others. Who might be left out in this age of remote engagement? Join this session to discuss creative, safe ways to include park stakeholders of all backgrounds and abilities in your group’s efforts. 


Taking Your Friends Group to the Next Level

Allison Barnett
Associate Director, Park Pride

Mrs. R.R. Harris
Friends of Collier Park

Whether you’re just starting out or have been stewarding your park for many years, there’s always room to grow! Join two of Park Pride family’s longest-standing members for a deep dive on overcoming common challenges and building your group’s capacity to take on bigger and better park projects.


Strategies for Leadership Transition & Group Sustainability

Ellen Bruenderman
Director of Community Building, Park Pride

Mandy LeCompte
Chair of Park Development & Maintenance, Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park

Leading a Friends of the Park group is an important act of service to your park community, and it can be hard work! Join Mandy LeCompte of the Friends of Little Nancy Creek Park and Ellen Bruenderman, Director of Community Building at Park Pride, to discuss effective ways to develop your group’s leadership and keep up the momentum through inevitable transitions.


11:10 – 11:30 a.m. – Closing Panel + Remarks


Inspiration for the Challenges Ahead

Ellen Bruenderman
Director of Community Building, Park Pride

Billie Walker
Friends of Mattie Freeland Park

Dave Butler
Friends of Medlock Park

This year has truly forced us to dig deep to find the motivation and inspiration to keep moving forward on the park projects and activities that keep our communities strong and healthy. What keeps Park Pride going is the dedication, creativity, and resilience of our Friends of the Park community. We’ll close the Big Park Meeting on a high note with an uplifting panel of Inspiration Award winners who will share what motivates them, what their parks mean to their communities, and words of encouragement to carry us into 2021.


11:30 – 12:00 a.m. – Optional Networking


Join us on Saturday, November 14th from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. for a morning of networking, learning, and fellowship.


Five attendees will have the opportunity to win a free registration for the 2021 Parks & Greenspace Conference!

Questions? Reach out to Program Manager, Kayla Altland at