Meet the professional: Bridget Stesney

Bridget Stesney is the chief operating officer at DC Department of Parks and Recreation.We are so honored to work with clients around the world, and we’re constantly learning about their fun and unique projects, obstacles they’ve faced and the innovative solutions they’ve created to overcome challenges. That’s why we’ve created this new feature that spotlights professionals. This week, meet Bridget Stesney, chief operating officer at DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).

Q: How long have you been involved in the park and recreation industry?
A: This fall, I will celebrate six years with DPR but I have always had an interest in recreation and the outdoors. I have been a lifeguard, a counselor at summer camps, a program leader at an environmental education center, and a ranger at a Michigan State Park.

Q: What have been some of your favorite initiatives to tackle since moving into parks and recreation?
A: In October 2012, we created an initiative called Play DC. The goal of Play DC is to create places for the entire family to be outside, playing together. We’ve set out to renovate 32 playgrounds this year. Kicking off the initiative was the Rosedale Recreation Center. This playground features an inclusive playground mimicking the monuments around the National Mall.

Rosedale Recreation Center (1701 Gales Street NE)

Rosedale Recreation Center (1701 Gales Street NE)

My favorite project at the moment, and that changes daily, is Palisades Recreation Center. We opened that playground on July 4. It has a Native American-themed play structure that pays tribute to the Potomac River settlement. The playground has been packed every day since the opening!

Palisades Recreation Center (5200 Sherrier Place NW)

Palisades Recreation Center (5200 Sherrier Place NW)

We are also incorporating fitness stations in our playgrounds. In one park, we placed fitness stations and play equipment together along a fitness trail in an effort to encourage entire families to be active together.

At eight of our playgrounds, we are also installing new community gardens. This is just another amenity we hope will bring generations together, and it helps encourage healthy living.

Next year, we hope to hire “playground professionals” (the exact job title is still being worked on), who will host play dates at playgrounds around the District and help activate and program our parks and playgrounds.

Q: Being as passionate about parks and recreation as you are, does your career influence some of your personal hobbies?
A: Definitely. I’ve got two little boys—ages 3 and 5—so we’re always looking for new parks and playgrounds to visit. If I hear of a new playground opening nearby, we’ll go visit. And if we’re vacationing somewhere, I try to work in a few visits to playgrounds in the area. It’s fun for the boys, and also helps me in my work to see what other professionals are doing.

Aside from playground visits, we like to go kayaking and hiking, and have started venturing to baseball games. And for a little alone-time recreation, I like to run.

Learn more about DPR and their DC Play initiative here. And be sure to check back to meet more of our amazing clients.

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