Operating & Advisory Boards

GP RED is fortunate to have volunteer board involvement from a variety of notable experts from around the country. The Operating Board meets monthly to govern and oversee the organization’s policies, funding, and operational direction. The Operating Board also may act as faculty and review GP RED activities and research.

Advisory Board members contribute industry expertise and opportunities, and also may act as faculty, along with being reviewers of activities and research. The Advisory Board meets quarterly through phone and web conferencing.

If you are interested in serving on a GP RED board, CLICK HERE for more information.

Operating Board

Chris Cares
Teresa Penbrooke, PhD
Robby Layton, PhD
Lisa Wolff, CPRP
Chris Dropinski, CPRE
Steve Blackburn
Lora Polowczuk
Linda Smith
Chris Cares – President

Chris Cares

Vice President, Research and Planning, RRC Associates

Chris Cares possesses a diverse background in public and private planning and market research. A founding partner of RRC Associates, he specializes in practical applications of quantitative and qualitative research including surveys, modeling, focus group facilitation, and public outreach for problem solving in a variety of industries and settings. His research and recommendations have helped to shape the design and marketing strategies of major resorts and other developer clients, as well as advertising campaigns, hospitality performance evaluations, community development programs, etc. He has coordinated the planning and public processing of numerous large resort and mixed-use projects. In addition, Chris has managed customer feedback programs, and other efforts designed to improve the function and performance of organizations, for over 20 years. Housing and real estate-related needs assessments are particular areas of specialization. Chris has an undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester and a Masters degree from Harvard University.


Teresa Penbrooke, PhD, MAOM, CPRE – Director, Healthy Communities Research Group
CEO and Founder, GreenPlay LLC; Visiting Scholar/Researcher, North Carolina State University; Faculty, Researcher and Secretary of the Board, GP RED

Teresa brings substantial career experience and planning expertise to projects for large and small communities on a national level. She founded GreenPlay, LLC, in 1999, and has been integral in the research, quality, recommendations, and implementation of the innovations that GreenPlay contributes to the field. In addition to leading projects and the firm, Teresa teaches and researches best practices around the country. She is an Official Visitor Chair for the Commission on Accreditation for Parks and Recre­ation Agencies (CAPRA). Teresa co-founded GP RED in 2008. She now divides her time between special projects, academic endeavors, and administration of the firm.

Robby Layton, PhD, FASLA, CPRP, Treasurer
Principal, Design Concepts, Landscape Architecture & Planning

Rob Layton’s interest has always focused on how the landscape of the public realm affects the lives of people. This has led to his involvement nationally towards helping communities understand, create and manage their public spaces. As one of the primary architects of the GRASP® methodology and a founding partner of Design Concepts, a national landscape architecture firm, he is dedicated to perfecting the science and practice of measuring how the built environment affects the people who live within it. Rob travels extensively throughout the world, involving himself with cultures and the way they create and inhabit their own landscapes. Another specialty of his is facilitating projects through the public process; Rob presents at conferences, leads workshops for communities, and writes articles on the processes he has helped develop for improving the built environment.

Lisa Wolff, MSL, CPRP

Lisa Wolff, CPRP

Project Consultant, GreenPlay, LLC

Lisa is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) with broad experience in the field of local government, primarily in recreation and parks. Spanning a 30-year career, Lisa’s foundation within the profession has developed partnership programs throughout her career in both financial giving and facility development across numerous spectrums. With a strong background in this area, Lisa has fostered projects and sponsorships exceeding $2 million dollars in funding and additional partnerships. Recently, Lisa has worked closely to help develop and maintain community-based initiatives that are focused in the area of health and wellness. Her philosophy begins with building and investing in healthy environments within a community to create new conversations for stronger and more viable change for the quality of life!

In addition to the development of strong partnerships, she also focuses on staff organization and development, planning and programming, trail development, marketing and partnerships, facility operations and overall project management. Her true passion lies in building strategic organizations through innovative and creative leadership and guidance while focusing on internal and external collaboration and communication among all stakeholders.

Lisa has served as President of the North Carolina Recreation & Parks Association (NCRPA) and has been a long-term Senate Appointed Board Member to the North Carolina Parks & Recreation Trust Fund. Her role as Assistant Director of Recreation & Parks with the City of Burlington-NC has included oversight of the programming division including: aquatics, recreation centers, youth programming and specialized recreation services, park maintenance, youth and adult athletics, tennis, athletic turf maintenance, theater, and special events.

Chris Dropinski, CPRE

Chris Dropinski

Senior Principal and Managing Member, GreenPlay LLC

Chris Dropinski has over 30 years of experience in the public parks, recreation, and open space industry, currently as a management consultant. From 1990-2001 she served as the Director for the City of Boulder Parks, Recreation, and Mountain Parks Department where she was responsible for the leadership and operation of the Department. Over her career Chris has focused on large and small-scale management, strategic, and master plans, as well as facility development and funding. This experience includes open space and park planning, public process facilitation, Board/Council relations, analysis of organizational needs, public and alternative funding, and policy research and development. Chris brings extensive expertise in managing a parks, recreation, and open space agency within a sustainable and controlled-growth environment. Chris is a Fellow of the prestigious American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and currently serves as Chair of the Rocky Mountain Revenue Management School.

Steve Blackburn, AIA

Steve Blackburn

For the past 32 years, Mr. Blackburn has dedicated himself to the programming and design of community, recreation, active aging, wellness, aquatic, and performing arts facilities in more than 150 communities and 60 colleges and universities throughout the United States. Mr. Blackburn is a registered architect and LEED Accredited Professional. He is a former Principal of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver (1999 – 2017), a former Principal of The Sports Management Group in Kansas City (1993 – 1999), and a former Associate/Project Designer with HOK Sport (now Populous) in Kansas City (1985 – 1999). He has extensive experience in the recreation center feasibility and design field. Sixty of Steve’s projects have been published in leading trade and design journals, and his work has earned 50 design excellence awards. He has authored numerous articles and is a regular speaker at parks, recreation, and health industry conventions on recreation sports programming, strategic planning, and design. For the past 14 years, Mr. Blackburn has guest lectured at the University of Colorado, the University of Kansas, the University of Northern Colorado, and Metro State University in recreation facilities design and maintenance classes.

Lora Polowczuk

Lora Polowczuk

Lora has a broad range of project management and business skills. She has administrative experience identifying and assessing risks, mitigating issues and resolving problems. She brings a business mindset and perspective on project collaboration and implementation, and she is able to identify innovative partnership strategies. Lora brings a multi-cultural perspective to program management and strategic planning in public health field. She fosters collaborative partnerships to create positive outcomes and sustain results. She promotes healthy living through outdoor recreation. Lora served on the Executive Committee of Potomac Appalachian Trail Club – Mountaineering Section from 2010-2011. She was elected Vice-Chair, 2010-2011, by the membership and appointed Event Coordinator, in 2013, by the Chairman for Potomac Appalachian Trail Club – Mountaineering Section. Both were volunteer positions. Lora received her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She thrives in fostering collaborations, leveraging existing tools, and identifying synergies to overcome public health challenges.

Linda Smith

Linda Smith

Assistant Director, Parks and Recreation, Chapel Hill, NC

Linda Smith is a parks and recreation professional particularly skilled in budgeting, business, industry, events and planning. Linda received her Bachelor’s from SUNY Cortland and her Master’s from UNC Chapel Hill. After a four year stint with a non-profit, Linda spent 15 years at the Town of Cary’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. Linda is currently Assistant Director, Parks and Recreation, for the Town of Chapel Hill. In addition to serving on the GP RED Operating Board of Directors, Linda serves on the NC Recreation and Parks Association as Treasurer, and PAWS4Ever.

Operating Board Emeritus

Karla Henderson, PhD, CPRP

Karla Henderson, PhD, CPRP

Editor of GP RED Research Briefs

Dr. Henderson, left the GP RED Operating Board at the end of 2018. She has graciously agreed to continue editing our Research Briefs.

Karla is Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University. Karla was at NCSU for 10 years and was also employed at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Texas Woman’s University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and is the author or co-author of over 15 books. She is a Fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences, the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators, and the World Leisure Academy. Karla received her PhD at the University of Minnesota and her masters and undergraduate degrees from Iowa State University. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Advisory Board

Advisory Board members contribute industry expertise and opportunities, and also may act as faculty, along with being reviewers of activities and research. The Advisory Board meets quarterly through phone and web conferencing.

Sylvia Allen
President of Allen Consulting

Sylvia Allen is an expert in fundraising, sponsorship, public relations and marketing. For the past 37 years, she has run Allen Consulting in Holmdel, NJ (www.allenconsulting.com). Her marketing and public relations firm has produced more than 100 events per year and raises more than $1 million worth of sponsorships for her clients each year. She was on the faculty at New York University for 20 years and has taught seminars on sponsorship and sales around the world. Sylvia also does consulting for GreenPlay, LLC. She is the author of many books including HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT SPONSORSHIP SALES and A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO SALES SUCCESS.

Janet Bartnik
Director, Parks and Recreation, Liberty, Missouri

Janet Bartnik is a seasoned parks and recreation director with 25 years of experience ranging from campus recreation, private health clubs, and community centers, to facility management, recreation programming, adjunct teaching, and service to the industry. Her special skills and interest include Land dedication requirements; health, healthy communities, strategic prevention framework, and developmental assets. She also is skilled at balancing the business model with the social service model in parks and recreation. She serves on several other boards including NRPA conference program committee and COAPRT council. For MPRA, she is past president, board member, study and research committee leadership, LDI regent, and more.

Axel Bishop, FASLA
Vice President, Design Concepts, Lafayette, Colorado

Axel has been at the forefront of modern efficient planning in Colorado for two decades. Axel’s approach to creating new communities is based primarily on the philosophy that parks and other civic spaces are the framework upon which great places to live are built. Axel has been a pioneer in developing new planning and design principles to maximize pedestrian-friendly spaces, minimizing auto impact and focusing on green space. These communities work with the topography, utilize LEED™ principles, re-use water, minimize runoff and slow traffic. Axel’s thirty-year history designing the most loved community parks in the state keeps Colorado’s parks and open space as the life of the built environment. Parks are center of western lives. Axel designs them as such.

David Compton, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, Indiana University

Dr. Compton has multi‐sector experience in project management, finances, healthy lifestyles, and higher education. His research and publications span across several topics, including healthy communities surveillance and analysis, systems thinking, active living research and the relationship between physical activity, diet and social interaction. Dr. Compton formerly served as Dean, College of Health, University of Utah; Department Chair (University of North Texas; University of Missouri; Indiana University), and is a widely published author, speaker and consultant. He also serves as a Member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer for the World Leisure Organization.

Charles A. Flink, FASLA
President, Greenways Incorporated

Charles A. “Chuck” Flink is President of Greenways Incorporated, an international consulting firm based in North Carolina. He is widely regarded as one of America’s leading greenway planners, having completed comprehensive greenway, trail and open space plans for more than 250 communities within 36 States. He has also been a consultant to clients in Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan and St. Croix, USVI. Chuck is a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows, and is the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Design at North Carolina State University. Chuck coauthored Greenways. A Guide to Planning, Design and Development, which received a 1994 Merit Award in Communications from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and is cited by the American Planning Association as “the best single reference” on greenway development. Chuck also coauthored Trails for the Twenty First Century. Both books have been translated into Chinese and are used as textbooks at Peking University in Beijing and Shenzhen. He graduated Cum Laude in 1982 from North Carolina State University’s College of Design and currently serves as Executive in Residence. He also currently serves on the NC State College of Design Leaders Council and Chairs the NC State University Board of Visitors (advisory to the Chancellor). He served three consecutive terms as Chairman of the Board for American Trails, Washington, DC. He served five terms as Chair of the Board of Trustees for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, a 3,000 mile urban trail that extends from Calis, Maine to Key West, Florida along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States. He currently serves on the American Trails National Advisory Board and is Chair of the East Coast Greenway National Advisory Board.

Patrick Larkin
Recreation Superintendent, Cosumnes Community Service District, El Grove, California

Patrick began working in the field of parks and recreation twenty-three years ago. During that time he worked in a number of capacities for a variety of park and recreation agencies and other service-oriented organizations. Throughout his fifteen years of managerial experience, he has had responsibility for numerous leisure programs, youth development programs and services as well as facility operations and maintenance. His colleagues regard him as a skilled manager and visionary leader who thrives in challenging environments. He has extensive experience presenting to community groups and supporting various elected and appointed boards and commissions.

Dirk Richwine, CPRE, MPA
Board of Directors, National Recreation & Park Association

Dirk Richwine, CPRP, MPA, is an Accreditation Specialist with the City of Henderson, NV Police Department. Previously, he served as the Recreation Superintendent for the City of Henderson. Henderson Parks and Recreation Department was awarded the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and the National Recreation & Park Association (NRPA) in 1999, and was awarded CARPA Accreditation in 2001 under Dirk’s leadership. Dirk holds a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in community recreation, and is a member of the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration. He serves on the Commission on Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies, NRPA Administrator’s Network Rocky Mountain Revenue School, and Pacific Revenue Management School.

Dr. Ana Alvarez
Deputy Director, San Francisco Recreation & Parks

Dr. Ana M. Alvarez has served as the Deputy Director for the City and County of San Francisco Recreation & Park Department since 2009. She oversees an annual operating budget of $80 million and directly supervises ten management staff with indirect responsibility for 368 full-time employees and 200 seasonal employees. Prior to joining San Francisco, Ana served as Director of the City of Santa Fe Spring’s Community Services Department, City of Oceanside Parks & Recreation Director, City of Burbank Cultural Arts Program Manager, and Teen Programs Supervisor with the City of Santa Barbara.

Most notably, she authored a Master Thesis on Santa Barbara’s Citywide Youth Master Plan, a comprehensive and holistic approach to youth services, which received a State-wide commendations and an Award of Excellence in Public Service from the California State University. Her most recent work, a Doctoral Dissertation for the University of Southern California, focused on San Francisco’s Park & Open Space Sustainability Plan that establishes climate change adaptation strategies, which Mayor Ed Lee recognized by bestowing Dr. Alvarez with San Francisco’s Green Pioneer Award for her endeavors in this field.

Daniel Betts
President for the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Organizations (NACPRO)

Daniel Betts is a public servant with 20 years of executive leadership experience managing personnel, property and multi-million dollar budgets. He has served in leadership roles within higher education, U.S. military, nonprofit, government and economic development organizations. Daniel is an innovative and creative leader with excellent skills in project management, strategic planning, program planning, facility management and developing public/private partnerships. Daniel has served in leadership and management positions in mid and large urban environments (Chicago, Denver, and Naperville, Illinois). He has served in leadership and management positions in higher education (University of Illinois at Chicago & Columbia College). Daniel holds a Master’s Degree in College Student Personnel (MS) from the School of Education at Western Illinois University and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Phoenix, Denver. He has Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Western Illinois University. He currently serves as the President for the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Organizations (NACPRO) representing more than a 150 cities and municipalities. Daniel is a member of the National Recreation and Park Association, National Forum for Blacks in Public Administration (NFBPA), The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the Alliance for Innovation, Transforming Local Government.

Kelly Bricker, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Utah, College of Health, Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, Utah

Dr. Kelly is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. She also works part-time as a Senior Research Scientist – Recreation with HDR|DTA. She completed her Ph.D. research at the Pennsylvania State University, where she specialized in sustainable tourism and natural resource management. Her research and teaching interests include ecotourism, sense of place, natural resource management, and the environmental and social impacts of tourism. Kelly has conducted research on heritage tourism, social impacts of tourism, and natural resource-related tourism environments. A renowned expert in her field, she has presented papers on issues in ecotourism, sense of place, natural resource management, and incentive travel programs. She has also published articles on sense of place, ecotourism certification and policy, and health and sustainable tourism relative to communities. With her husband Nathan, she developed an ecotourism operation called Rivers Fiji. She serves as the Chair of The International Ecotourism Society and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Leslie Fritz, CPRP
Director of Education, California Park & Recreation Society

Leslie Fritz started her 14th year with the CA Park & Recreation Society as Director of Education in 2010. Leslie has maintained her CPRP certification since 1981. In addition to planning and implementing educational seminars for park and recreation professionals throughout California, she serves as educational program liaison to the annual conference program committee, administrators institute and summit and maintenance management school. Leslie serves as staff support to working committees of volunteers, many established by membership needs assessments and others a special interest section within the CPRS governance system. Professional involvement includes commitments with the California Society of Association Executives as a council region board member, legislative committee member, and annual conference program committee member. Leslie also volunteers at an American Cancer Society second-hand retail store and as ad-hoc committee support for the City of Elk Grove Youth Commission.

John Henderson, J.D., CPRE
Research/Evaluation Manager, Maryland-National Capitol Park & Planning Commission

John R. Henderson, J.D., CPRP, has been heavily involved in parks development and planning for the last 30 years. He is currently the research and evaluation manager for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. John has previously served as the Chief for the Redevelopment Authority of Prince George’s County – where he was charged with the economic revitalization of inner-beltway communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland – and as the Director of Research, Planning and Evaluation for the Chicago Park District. He received his Bachelor of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, and his J.D. from the John Marshall Law School. John has served as the chairman for Washington Parks and People, been president of the North River Housing Development Corporation, and has received the Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Fran Mainella, MS
Visiting Scholar, Clemson University, South Carolina

Fran Mainella is a Visiting Scholar at Clemson University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management. Previously, Director Mainella completed nearly six years as the 16th Director and the first woman to lead the National Park Service. Fran served twelve years as Director of Florida’s State Parks, which were awarded the Gold Medal Award, recognizing Florida as the best state park system in the country. She has also served as executive director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association and as president of both the National Recreation and Park Association and the National Association of State Park Directors. Fran is currently a member of Newsweek Magazine’s Environmental Advisory Board, a board member of the National Society for Park Resources, a fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration, a member of the Advisory Board for the Children and Nature Network, and a national speaker on parks and recreation. Director Mainella holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree, and an honorary doctorate from Central Connecticut State College.