Jeff Stewart of Gardner was recently hired as JCPRD’s first-ever deputy director.
Stewart, 46, began in the new position on April 11. He brings 22 years of professional parks and recreation experience. Prior to accepting the JCPRD position, Stewart had served as the director of the Parks and Recreation Department for the city of Gardner since March of 2000.
“Living and working in Johnson County for the last 16 years allowed me to develop an understanding of how awesome JCPRD and its team are to work with and be around,” Stewart said. “I was also very much attracted to recent efforts made by the district and its employees in visioning and planning for the future. With rapid growth projections for Johnson County, I believe we have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to continue to make Johnson County the best place to live, grow and play!”
“He understands our business, yet brings an entirely new perspective to our agency,” added executive director Jill Geller. “I appreciate his fresh eyes and suggestions on how JCPRD can do things differently and more efficiently or effectively. His professionalism and personality have already proven to be a great fit within our organization. He has immersed himself into learning all about JCPRD and has truly hit the ground running.”
The deputy director will serve as superintendent of JCPRD’s Administrative Services Division, providing oversight and support for all departments within this division. Additionally, he will be facilitating cooperative projects with area municipalities, making presentations to area groups, representing JCPRD on county committees and workgroups, and serving as a JCPRD ambassador throughout the community. He will coordinate and oversee implementation of the Legacy Plan, and be assigned various special projects. He will also serve in the role of executive director in Geller’s absence.
“This position has been needed for a long time, and with our recent growth due to implementation of the Legacy Plan and our increased funding to implement this plan, workloads have increased dramatically, making the position even more of a priority,” Geller said. “There are few agencies the size of JCPRD that do not have a deputy director, and many smaller agencies that do have one.”
Prior to his 16 years with the City of Gardner, Stewart worked for about two years as recreation specialist for the Independence, Kan., Recreation Commission, and about four years as assistant director of parks and recreation for the city of Junction City, Kan.
Stewart is a graduate of Kansas State University where he was a member of the Kansas State Baseball Team, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in parks and recreation administration. He is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP), and has been recognized with the Kansas Recreation and Park Association’s (KRPA) Distinguished Professional Award. His leadership in the field includes his recent completion of his third term as a board member for the KRPA. He is a current member for the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Committee and the Kansas Recreation Park Association Professional Development Committee.
He previously served as chairperson for the Kansas City Metropolitan Area Parks and Recreation Directors Association, a member of the Midwest Regional Council Board of Directors, and as a member of KRPA’s Administration Branch Committee. Locally, he continues to serve on the USD 231 Facilities and Planning Committee and as a volunteer coach to numerous youth athletic teams. He is also an active member of the Gardner Rotary Club.
Stewart’s wife of 21 years, Christine, is a physical therapist for Olathe Medical Center. They are the parents of 18-year-old Taylor and 13-year-old Brock. Stewart is a sports fan, with emphasis on baseball, and in his free time enjoys fishing, hiking, camping, skiing, and playing in the Senior Baseball League at Mid-America Sports Complex.
(Article courtesy of Johnson County Parks and Recreations e newsletter.)