Kathyrn Ott Lovell
Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
Kathryn Ott Lovell.
Kathryn Ott Lovell’s work in Philadelphia with the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation and previously the Fairmount Park Conservancy demonstrates a successful public-private partnership – a model the Emerald Necklace Conservancy strives to practice and hone for the benefit of Boston’s Emerald Necklace. Through projects such as Reimagining the Civic Commons and programs like the annual Love Your Park Week and fall service days, the Parks on Tap traveling beer garden, and The Oval+ pop-up park, Kathryn’s example has set a gold standard for how municipal parks departments and privately funded nonprofit organizations can work together to create world class parks and programming for the benefit of all residents. Her successes to move forward public-private partnerships in Philadelphia embody the spirit of Justine Mee Liff, who was a true convener and unifier.
Kathryn was appointed commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation by Mayor Jim Kenney in January 2016. In this position, Kathryn oversees 700 full-time employees, more than 2,700 part-time and seasonal employees, over 10,200 acres of land, 500 buildings, 272 miles of trail, 250 playgrounds, and thousands of programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system.
In 2017, Kathryn commissioned the first strategic plan for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. The plan, Our Path to 2020, established a renewed vision for the department and set in motion a powerful trajectory toward an equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system that connects people to each other, to enriching experiences, and to the natural world. The plan emphasizes citizen-centric service; high quality, relevant, and accessible programs; and a commitment to well-maintained assets.
Kathryn has presented widely on topics ranging from urban forestry, to climate change, to why parks are crucial to our future. Notable speaking and panel appearances include the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW), National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Conference, the City Parks Alliance’s Greater & Greener Conference, and the One Water Summit. Last year, she served as the 2018 NRPA Robert W. Crawford Lecturer.
Currently, Kathryn serves on the board of directors for the Please Touch Museum, Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Parkway Council, Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Sports Congress.