2020 Big Park Meeting

We know it has been a tough year, and we could all use a boost. We came together at this year’s virtual Big Park Meeting to focus on what’s good and positive: our communities and our parks! Part social gathering and part education, this year’s Big Park Meeting highlighted the resilience and adaptability of our parks community.


Opening and Closing Sessions

Welcome and Opening Remarks: A Ripple of Positivity

Michael Halicki
Executive Director, Park Pride

Ellen Bruenderman
Director of Community Building, Park Pride

Kayla Altland
Program Manager, 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. Park Pride’s Community Building Team shares 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.



Closing 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.



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.