Mayor Rawlings-Blake Names New Recreation and Parks Director

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425



BALTIMORE, MD. (November 27, 2012) – Today, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced another key leadership appointment to her cabinet, naming Ernest W. Burkeen, Jr. as director of the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, effective December 17. Mr. Burkeen brings with him a wealth of experience, having headed recreation and parks departments for the City of Miami, City of Fort Lauderdale, and the City of Detroit. He is a current board member for the National Recreation and Parks Association. “Ernest Burkeen is a nationally-respected leader in his field with a great track record of success improving parks and recreational opportunities for urban communities,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. “I look forward to working with him and all our great employees within the Department of Recreation and Parks to make our parks and programs a catalyst to help grow the city by 10,000 families over the next ten years.” “I want to thank Mayor Rawlings-Blake for selecting me for this important position. I am excited to begin working on behalf of the citizens of Baltimore,” Mr. Burkeen said. “I’ve dedicated my entire career to serving urban communities to improve quality of life for city residents, and I can’t wait to build upon Baltimore’s unique park and recreation assets to make them even better.” Mr. Burkeen has over thirty years of senior management experience in recreation and park programing and has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work in large U.S. cities. He received the Meritorious Service Professional Award and the Distinguished Professional Award from the National Recreation and Parks Association. “The Parks & People Foundation applauds Mayor Rawlings-Blake for her selection of Ernest Burkeen to lead the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Mr. Burkeen is valued for his success in building public private partnerships that have maximized the benefits of urban parks in cities of similar size and composition to ours,” said Jackie Carrera, president and CEO, Parks & People Foundation. “Through the interview process, Mr. Burkeen demonstrated a history of strong collaboration and innovation in previous roles, and he clearly understands the needs of urban areas. He will be a great partner to the citizens of Baltimore,” added Kevin M. Keegan, president and CEO, The Family League of Baltimore City. Both Mr. Keegan and Ms. Carrera served on the interview panel for the position. From 2004 through 2012, Mr. Burkeen served as director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the City of Miami, administering a $23 million annual budget, 400 year-round employees, 106 parks, and a variety of recreational programs. During his time in Miami, Mr. Burkeen led the city’s successful effort to obtain national accreditation for its recreation and parks program. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. Burkeen was director of the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department. Prior to working in Florida, Mr. Burkeen was director of the City of Detroit Recreation Department, managing more than 1300 employees, 400 parks, 38 recreation centers, and many other facilities and programs. Mr. Burkeen began his career serving youth and young adults in the 1970’s as a physical education teacher and coach in Michigan. Mr. Burkeen earned his Master's in Recreation Administration from Michigan State University in 1976. He earned his BS in Physical Education from Michigan State University in 1975. Mr. Burkeen replaces acting recreation and parks director Bill Vondrasek who has served in an interim capacity since April 6 while the search process for a permanent director was underway. Mr. Vondrasek will return to his previous post of chief of parks for the department. “I would like to especially thank Bill Vondrasek and the entire leadership team at the Department of Recreation and Parks for their outstanding work over the last several months,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake added. “Bill has done great job leading the department and I am glad that he is staying on board as chief of parks.”

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