Get to Know Your AOAP Board Members-rk

Private: Get to Know Your AOAP Board Members

The Association of Aquatic Professionals boasts a dynamic group of leaders working hard throughout the year to support the Association, to provide information and benefits to our members, and to bring the biggest and best annual conference and exposition to the industry! AOAP’s Board of Directors includes several experts with years of professional aquatic management experience. Each month, we will feature a different AOAP Board Member with the goal of sharing information about their aquatic positions and offering advice to those members who may be new to the field.

BOD Member’s Employer/Organization:
  • EXOS in St. Paul, MN
Current Position/Title:
  • Aquatics Director
How long have you worked in the aquatics field?
  • I have worked in the aquatic field for 25 years. As a child, I was always in the water swimming and on a swim team; it was just natural that the next step was lifeguarding. What started out as a great summer job and something to do in college, quickly turned into a lifelong passion and career. I also did several aquatics internships that took me to different states and countries, including Iceland.
What are you most passionate about with regard to the Aquatics Industry?
  • I would say education and passing water safety information to others is what I am most passionate about. Being in aquatics, you often hear the dangerous and heartbreaking stories of the aquatics world. However, catching and educating that one family on the importance of putting their child in a lifejacket or swim lessons makes those long days out in the sun worth it.
How long have you been a member of AOAP?
  • Since 2014
As a current BOD member, what do you love most about serving the members of AOAP?
  • One of my favorite parts of being involved with AOAP is all of the connections I have made and all of the great information I have learned. I love seeing how passionate and energized others are at the annual conference and hope I can help ignite some energy and passion in this profession for others as well.
If you could provide advice to a young professional in the field, what would you tell them? And why?
  • Get involved, stay involved, and don’t be afraid to ask to be involved. I am here today because I had managers/supervisors that believed in me and took the time to include me. I took a summer job that I loved and made it into a career. Don’t be afraid to take chances, you never know what opportunities lay around the corner.
BOD Member’s Employer/Organization
  • City of Peoria, Arizona
Current Position/Title
  • Aquatics Recreation Coordinator
How long have you worked in the aquatics field?
  • I have worked in the aquatic field for 25 years. As a child, I was always in the water swimming and on a swim team; it was just natural that the next step was lifeguarding. What started out as a great summer job and something to do in college, quickly turned into a lifelong passion and career. I also did several aquatics internships that took me to different states and countries, including Iceland.
What are you most passionate about with regard to the Aquatics Industry?
  • I would say education and passing water safety information to others is what I am most passionate about. Being in aquatics, you often hear the dangerous and heartbreaking stories of the aquatics world. However, catching and educating that one family on the importance of putting their child in a lifejacket or swim lessons makes those long days out in the sun worth it.
How long have you been a member of AOAP?
  • Since 2014
As a current BOD member, what do you love most about serving the members of AOAP?
  • One of my favorite parts of being involved with AOAP is all of the connections I have made and all of the great information I have learned. I love seeing how passionate and energized others are at the annual conference and hope I can help ignite some energy and passion in this profession for others as well.
If you could provide advice to a young professional in the field, what would you tell them? And why?
  • Get involved, stay involved, and don’t be afraid to ask to be involved. I am here today because I had managers/supervisors that believed in me and took the time to include me. I took a summer job that I loved and made it into a career. Don’t be afraid to take chances, you never know what opportunities lay around the corner.
BOD Member’s Employer/Organization
  • City of La Mirada
Current Position/Title
  • Former Director of Community Services (retired)
How long have you worked in the aquatics field?
  • I have worked in the field for 40+ years.  One day when I was 15 years old, I showed up for swim practice and the pool manager asked me if I wanted a job. After practice my parents were surprised to hear I had a job and I have been hooked ever since. While working my first job as a locker room attendant I can remember thinking that the lifeguards were really cool and someday I wanted to be like them.   It was not long after graduating high school that I can remember thinking that someday I would have to get a “real job” and was not sure what that looked like. While trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a career I realized that working in aquatics was an exceptional career. I have been very fortunate to have worked for some really great organizations and had the opportunity to do a wide variety of things. This past July after working for over 40 years municipal aquatics and community services, I retired to be able to spend time with family and continue to do what I love in the field of aquatics.
What are you most passionate about with regard to the Aquatics Industry?
  • I truly enjoy the teaching and training aspect and being able to work with all the great aquatic professionals to help make facilities safe and fun. I am working with Starguard and Starfish Aquatics to partner with organizations to help increase safety and efficiency. I am also able to devote more time to drowning prevention and consulting.
How long have you been a member of AOAP?
  • I have been a member of AOAP since 2011.
As a current BOD member, what do you love most about serving the members of AOAP?
  • Being a member of AOAP since it started has really been helpful in being able to network with many of the top professionals in aquatics and continue to learn new and exciting information. One of the highlights of being in this field is all the great people you get to meet, the amazing teamwork and sharing of information that happens throughout the industry. As a board member, I enjoy getting the opportunity to work with some fantastic people who care about the profession.
If you could provide advice to a young professional in the field, what would you tell them?  And why?
  • When I think of all the great young adults, I have had the opportunity to work with over the years, I have truly been blessed. I have also had the blessing of working with the children of those I hired, which does not feel like that many years ago. If I could tell young professionals in aquatics one thing it would be, that while you have chosen a very challenging profession it is also a very rewarding one. Most often aquatics is a career that chooses you rather than you choosing it.  We all have times in our career that we question our choice.  Hang in there during the challenging times and there will be some.  I can tell you from experience, it is totally worth it.

BOD Member’s Employer/Organization

  • River Road Park and Recreation District, Eugene, OR

Current Position/Title

  • Aquatic Director

How long have you worked in the aquatics field?

  • Too long . . . In September 1975, I started lifeguarding my local pool in what was then the Panama Canal Zone;  and have been at it ever since.

What are you most passionate about with regard to the Aquatics Industry?

  • I truly believe – in one way or another – we, as aquatic professionals, have a unique opportunity to Influence, effect and impact young adults. Often, we are an individual’s first employer;  and, as a result, we often wear many hats – hats that place us in a position to not only teach and prepare our staffs for the “job at hand”, but for future endeavors as well.

How long have you been a member of AOAP?

  • I became a member of the A.O.A.P. in 2011 shortly before the first A.O.A.P. Conference and Exposition in 2012.

As a current BOD member, what do you love most about serving the members of AOAP?

  • Serving on the A.O.A.P. Board of Directors is a labor of love and one way in which I can reciprocate to an industry that has provided me so much throughout the years.

If you could provide advice to a young professional in the field, what would you tell them?  And why?

  • Get involved! Network!  Interact!  In some ways, you do not have to reinvent the wheel . . .    Many of us have “been there, done that”.  In other ways, as our industry progresses, it is up to you to “build a new mousetrap”.  “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
    ― Helen Keller
BOD Member’s Employer/Organization
  • Arkansas City Recreation Commission, Arkansas City, Kansas
Current Position/Title
  • Aquatic/Special Programs Director
How long have you worked in the aquatics field?
  • I started in the field of Aquatics at the age of 12 as a lifeguard for 25 cents an hour.
    Professionally, I started with the Arkansas City Recreation Commission 20 years ago this year.
What are you most passionate about with regard to the Aquatics Industry?
  • Drowning Prevention will always be my most passionate goal. I think this is why I feel so honored to be part of AOAP with such like-minded individuals who are dedicated to saving one life at a time. The water is such a beautiful environment to be in and has such benefits both physically and mentally for all people, and it can be a safe place if people are trained with swimming lessons and supervision. It’s that simple!
How long have you been a member of AOAP?
  • I have been a member of AOAP since the beginning. I am a founding member.
As a current BOD member, what do you love most about serving the members of AOAP?
  • The opportunity to serve the membership has been one of my biggest blessings. The chance to have a leadership role with an organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and providing support to each other has been life-changing for me. The people who have mentored me for many years have made my career more successful than I could have ever imagined. It has provided me the tools to serve my community in many ways I would not have been able to without the professional members this organization brings together.
If you could provide advice to a young professional in the field, what would you tell them? And why?
  • RUN!!! Just kidding. You will never know how many lives your career will save and change. Every action by your team members at your pools are potential “rescues”. Public Service will be one of the most frustrating and rewarding careers you will ever have all in one moment. If you stay in the field long enough you will become “wired” differently than everyone else in one of the best ways ever. You will meet some of the most incredible team members one could ever wish to be associated with. And before too long you will realize you are changing lives each and every day. The field of Aquatics is a blessing you will swear is a curse some days, but in the end it puts you in a group of people who will support you, cry with you, celebrate with you, pray for you and love you every moment of every day like no other people on earth. I wouldn’t change a thing!! Thank you AOAP for all that you bring to my life!!