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Parks and Rec director gets national position

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

For several years, Detrick Stanford has overseen the natural and recreational assets of Clayton County as the director of its Parks and Recreation Department.

In October, he will get to "play" on a national stage as a member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Board of Directors.

Stanford was recently elected to serve a three-year term on the NRPA's board. He will be installed to the at-large position during the association's annual Congress and Exposition in Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 13-16.

According to Stanford, he has been an active member of the group for more than nine years, and currently serves on its National Program Committee, which is responsible for developing the curriculum for its annual training conference for parks-and-recreation professionals.

He said he looks forward to taking on more responsibility within the organization.

"I have a strong passion and commitment to my profession," he said. "Leisure Services is a misunderstood profession, in my opinion. Any organization that can bring more attention to parks-and-recreation programs at a national level, I want to be a part of."

A spokesperson for the NRPA could not be reached on Thursday for comment. But, according to NRPA's web site, the organization's mission is "to advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people." Among its goals is that "by 2020, every person in America will have convenient access to safe and affordable public park and recreation opportunities."

The site lists Stanford as an elected 2009 board member, along with Robert F. Ashcraft, Robert A. Farnsworth, Robert Johnson, Jr., and Randy Bina.

Stanford said as a member of the NRPA board, he will "serve as a conduit for the rest of the members in terms of the strategic planning of the organization."

Among his duties will be advocating for federal funding for parks-and-recreation programs across the country, as well as acting as a "sounding board" for other communities seeking parks-and-recreation improvements.

"When different organizations are vying for change in parks and recreation, a lot of the time, they vet those recommendations to the board of directors," Stanford said. "We will listen to groups, non-profit groups ... anybody who advocates for park services.

"I think we're at a great time in our profession to really try to take, what I call, the 'leisure field,' to the next level," he said. "There is a need for a unified voice in our urban and rural communities. This was a great opportunity to step out on a national level to help promote that."

Stanford said he would use his position to "bring back new opportunities and resources" to Clayton County.