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Great Parks Leadership

Leadership

Great Parks of Hamilton County was created in 1930 as the Hamilton County Park District. Great Parks is a separate political subdivision of the State of Ohio, governed by a Board of Park Commissioners.

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  • Board of Park Commissioners

    Great Parks of Hamilton County (formerly Hamilton County Park District) was created in 1930 with the mission to protect local natural resources and to provide outdoor recreation and education for area residents. Great Parks of Hamilton County is a separate political subdivision of the State of Ohio, governed by a Board of Park Commissioners. Board members are appointed by the Judge of Hamilton County Probate Court, the Honorable Ralph Winkler.

    The Board is comprised of five individuals who serve without compensation for terms of three years. The Board sets governance policies, approves land acquisitions and annual budgets. The Board appoints a Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for the implementation of park policies and leads the overall operation of Great Parks of Hamilton County.

    William J. Burwinkel was first appointed to the Board effective January 11, 2016 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2020. Mr. Burwinkel is the founder and Chairman of the Board of National Marketshare Group, Inc. He is also the founder of Adopt A Class Foundation and is active throughout the Greater Cincinnati community serving on the Cincinnati Public Services Quality of Life Board, Cincinnati Police Chief Advisory Board, the Queensgate Business Alliance and the Westside Summit.

    Stacey DeGraffenreid was first appointed to the Board effective January 14, 2021. She is the Assistant Chief Prosecuting Attorney in the criminal division of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office, where she has worked for 19 years. Ms. DeGraffenreid supports the Greater Cincinnati community and mentors young ladies through coaching youth basketball and soccer. She is a graduate of University of Louisville and University of Cincinnati College of Law.

    Caren Laverty was first appointed to the Board effective January 12, 2021. She has over 13 years in investment business focused on teaching women the fundamentals of financial investing. Mrs. Laverty is the author of the book "A Woman's Place is in the Market" and is the founder of her financial blog, carenlaverty.com. She is active in the Greater Cincinnati community and volunteers at St. Joseph Orphanage working with young adults in the Independent Living program. Mrs. Laverty is a graduate of Miami University.

    Joseph C. Seta was first appointed to the Board effective January 1, 2011 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2020. He served as the President and CEO of Seta, Appleman & Showell, an advertising and graphic design firm, for 22 years and as Managing Director of Cincinnati Landor Associates Design Group. He has served on the advisory board for the College of Mount Saint Joseph and was a board member for the Central Academy of Commercial Art. He attended Xavier University and the Central Academy of Commercial Art. 

    Marcus L. Thompson was first appointed to the Board effective January 3, 2019. He is Community Development Manager at Skanska was recognized as a Forty Under 40 award recipient in 2018 by the Cincinnati Business Courier. He is also a graduate of Leadership of Central Kentucky and United Way BOLD. Mr. Thompson supports the Greater Cincinnati community as director of Gameday Operations for Saturday Hoops, serves on the Board of Trustees for the Center for Addiction Treatment, is a member of the Cincinnati Zoo Ambassador Council and is a mentor and serves on the Board of Directors for the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. He is a graduate of Seton Hill University.

    Todd Palmeter, Chief Executive Officer, Great Parks of Hamilton County 
    Todd Palmeter became the new Chief Executive Officer of Great Parks of Hamilton County on May 16, 2019. Mr. Palmeter began his career with the park district in 2003 and played an instrumental role in the development of many of the park district’s most popular destinations including Highfield Discovery Garden, Fernbank Park and the Mitchell Memorial Forest Mountain Bike Trail. He managed the five-year strategic plan and provided leadership for several key park district initiatives including the agency’s first Comprehensive Master Plan. He currently serves on the Board for Green Umbrella, is a member of Leadership Cincinnati USA Class 43 and is actively involved with the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

    Individuals interested in being considered for a future appointment to the Board of Park Commissioners of Great Parks of Hamilton County may submit a letter of interest to the Probate Court of Hamilton County, c/o Honorable Judge Ralph Winkler, William Howard Taft Law Center, 230 East Ninth Street, 10th Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Park Commissioners must be Hamilton County residents with demonstrated skills in organizational, business and/or academic leadership and a genuine passion for public parks and the conservation of natural resources.

    Previous Park Commissioners

    William H. Albers7/17/1930–6/6/1954
    Ralph Rogan7/17/1930–4/1/1955
    L. Alvin Kreis7/17/1930–9/19/1936
    Alfred K. Nippert11/7/1936–6/4/1953
    Louis Nippert6/4/1953–12/31/1977
    Justin A. Rollman6/14/1954–10/20/1970
    Louis Richter4/6/1955–12/31/1957
    Sam Benedict1/1/1958–12/1/1980
    Richard H. Durrell10/20/1970–8/14/1987
    Nolan Carson1/1/1978–12/31/1995
    Paul W. Christensen, Jr.12/1/1980–12/31/1993
    James A.D. Geier8/19/1987–8/1/2001
    Robert A. Goering, Sr.1/1/1994–12/31/2012
    Nancy R. Hamant2/1/1996–12/31/2010
    James E. Bushman11/21/2001–12/31/2009
    John T. Reis1/1/2010–12/31/2013
    Donald S. LaRosa6/7/2012–12/31/2015
    DeVere Burt1/1/2013–12/31/2018
    Geraldine Warner5/2/2012–12/31/2020
    HC Buck Niehoff1/1/2014–12/31/2020
    Joseph C. Seta
    1/1/2011–present
    William Burwinkel1/1/2016–present
    Marcus L. Thompson1/3/2019–present
    Caren Laverty1/12/2021–present
    Stacey DeGraffenreid1/14/2021–present
  • 2021 Board Meeting Schedule

    • January 21, 1 p.m.
    • February 18, 1 p.m.
    • March 18, 1 p.m.
    • April 15, 1 p.m.
    • May 20, 1 p.m.
    • June 17, 1 p.m.
    • July 15, 1 p.m.
    • August 19, 1 p.m.
    • September 16, 1 p.m.
    • October 21, 3 p.m.
    • November 18, 1 p.m.
    • December 16, 1 p.m.

    All meetings are held at the Winton Centre, 10245 Winton Road, Cincinnati, OH 45231 unless otherwise stated.

  • Board Meeting Minutes


    2020 Board Meeting Minutes

    January 30, 2020Minutes
    February 20, 2020Minutes
    March 19, 2020Minutes
    April 16, 2020Minutes
    May 21, 2020Minutes
    June 18, 2020Minutes
    July 6, 2020 - Special MeetingMinutes
    July 16, 2020Minutes
    August 5, 2020 - Special MeetingMinutes
    August 20, 2020Minutes
    September 17, 2020Minutes
    September 30, 2020 - Special MeetingMinutes
    October 15, 2020Minutes
    November 19, 2020Minutes
    December 17, 2020Minutes


    2019 Board Meeting Minutes

    January 31, 2019Minutes
    January 31, 2019 - Special MeetingMinutes
    February 21, 2019Minutes
    March 21, 2019Minutes
    April 18, 2019Minutes
    May 13, 2019 | Special MeetingMinutes
    May 16, 2019Minutes
    July 18, 2019Minutes
    August 15, 2019Minutes
    September 19, 2019Minutes
    October 17, 2019Minutes
    November 21, 2019Minutes
    December 12, 2019Minutes
  • Great Parks Advisory Committee

    The Great Parks Advisory Committee is a team of dedicated supporters, community leaders and visionaries who will act as a sounding board for Great Parks to develop a strategy to launch a transformative campaign that addresses three key project priorities: establishing Great Parks as a leader in conservation; providing innovative programming; and creating outstanding visitor experiences.

    Meetings

    Monday, February 8, 2021 | 3:30 p.m.

    Zoom Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/91066993233
    Meeting ID: 910 6699 3233
    To Dial In: +1 346-248-7799


    Meeting Minutes

    January 12, 2021 minutes

  • Great Parks Leadership Team

    Todd Palmeter, Chief Executive Officer 
    The Chief Executive Officer serves as the chief administrator and executive officer overseeing all operations of Great Parks of Hamilton County, reporting directly to the Board of Park Commissioners. The Chief Executive Officer works and collaborates with Great Parks Forever.

    Bret Henninger, Chief Operating Officer 
    The Chief Operating Officer oversees the Conservation & Parks, Guest Experiences, Human Resources, Planning and Ranger divisions.

    Jason Rahe, Chief of Conservation and Parks

    The Chief of Conservation and Parks oversees all natural areas, wildlife habitat, environmental quality, biological diversity, sustainability initiatives and park operations for all developed areas.

    Andy Collins, Chief Financial Officer 
    The Chief Financial Officer oversees budgets, cash flow, investments, internal controls, audits and long-range financial planning; as well as IT & Data Management.

    Rachel Messerschmitt, Chief of Guest Experiences
    The Chief of Guest Experiences oversees Education & Events, Golf and all offerings related to our guest’s experience including harbors, campgrounds, banquet centers, athletics, interpretive farm, equestrian center and gift stores.

    Molly deJesus, Chief of Human Resources
    The Chief of Human Resources oversees all employee services including payroll, hiring, benefits and training; as well as Volunteer Resources and Risk Management.

    Alicia Culman, Chief of Philanthropy
    The Chief of Philanthropy oversees all philanthropic strategies including planned gifts, partnerships, sponsorship, business development and grants; as well as serves as Executive Director of Great Parks Forever.

    Tim Zelek, Chief of Planning
    The Chief of Planning oversees Design & Land Acquisition, Facilities & Infrastructure and Marketing & Public Engagement.

    Scott Snow, Ranger Chief
    The Ranger Chief oversees our state-certified police force responsible for enforcing federal and state laws, as well as Great Parks’ by-laws.

  • Great Parks Forever Board

    The Great Parks Forever is facilitated by an all-volunteer Board. For more information visit the Great Parks Forever website.

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