Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Don Bresnan and Champaign Make Things Happen

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Don Bresnan and Champaign Make Things Happen

Article excerpt

Communities across the country benefit every day from the volunteer efforts of citizen boards dedicated to the principals of parks and recreation. In fact, there are hundreds of success stories involving the work of citizen boards. Parks & Recreation magazine wants to share these success stories with others in the field and offer tips and ideas from the best and the brightest of citizen boards and their leaders.

The first in our series of Citizen Boards in Action focuses on Don Bresnan, representing the citizen board of Champaign, Illinois. Mr. Bresnan has been active in citizen board activities for 33 years. He also has served on the NRPA Board of Trustees since 1978. A widely published author, Mr Bresnan is retired from his position as vice president/marketing of the Universal Bleacher Division of the American Seating Company.

Mr Bresnan was interviewed recently by Parks & Recreation staff, and he talked about how his group has survived and thrived over the years.

P&R: What was your initial motivation or goal?

Bresnan: Our main objective was to encourage community pride. And we've continued working with this goal in mind every year.

P&R: How did you outline your approach? What steps did you plan to follow?

Bresnan: We worked on gaining recognition by applying for awards and other types of acknowledgment Pretty soon, the newspapers started referring to us as "award-winning."

We didn't have a set plan of action. No one talked about "strategic planning" in those days. We came up with good ideas and implemented them. if something worked, we kept it. If something didn't work, we tried something else.

P&R. What obstacles were in your way?

Bresnan: Attitudes of staff and community. We needed to get them to be proud of our programs and take ownership of them.

We changed the attitudes of staff by getting everyone to work together and by giving them the opportunity to take on responsibility and come up with ideas. Staff can be your best resource if you give them responsibility and give them the opportunity to try and even fail.

Once the staff felt pride, their enthusiasm spread to the community through word of mouth and through top-notch programs and activities. …

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