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News: 05/15/2017

Whitaker appointed as director of Regional Parks

New Director Bert Whitaker

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors selected Bert Whitaker as the new director of Sonoma County Regional Parks. Whitaker has served as park manager since 2007. Current Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart announced her resignation, effective June 20, earlier this year. In a Jan. 18 letter to employees and the Board of Supervisors, Hart said her decision was based on several factors, including a desire to help national nonprofits and federal representatives deal with the threats to parks and the environment posed by Trump administration policies.

“Bert has done an impressive job as Regional Parks’ operations manager,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Shirlee Zane. “The Board and our community partners are confident he will excel as the next parks director. His understanding of the department’s functions, needs, and opportunities are a tremendous asset for this crucial position.”

Whitaker has more than 20 years of experience in public administration and parks and recreation management. He has led Regional Parks’ operations and maintenance division for the past decade. In that role, he has been responsible for public access and safety at 56 parks, beaches, campgrounds, and trails encompassing 12,000 acres. Whitaker joined Regional Parks as a lifeguard in 1995 and ran the department’s aquatics program from 1999 to 2007. His experience also includes administering a large outdoor education program in Washington and operating an industrial waste consulting business in the Pacific Northwest.

A native of Texas, Whitaker has a degree in environmental science from Northern Arizona University. He lives in Santa Rosa with his wife and two daughters.

Whitaker’s achievements include the opening of Taylor Mountain, North Sonoma Mountain, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail, and other new parklands, the modernization of park entries with automated pay stations, and the addition of new attractions at Spring Lake Regional Park. Whitaker also expanded public safety outreach along the Russian River and has advocated for natural resource protections in the watershed. In addition, Whitaker coordinated the county’s interim management of Annadel State Park when it was slated for closure in 2012.

“I am thrilled to serve as the next director of Regional Parks,” Whitaker said. “I look forward to continuing to improve and expand our parks, building upon our positive record with innovative programs, strengthening our focus on securing long-term financial sustainability, and supporting an amazing team.”

The Regional Parks Department has approximately 200 employees and a budget of $26 million. Regional Parks preserves natural and cultural resources and offers opportunities for recreation and education that enhance the quality of life and wellbeing of residents and visitors.

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