FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2020
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appoints Norma Edith García as the new Director of the Department Parks and Recreation (LA County Parks) and the Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District. Norma is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this capacity since the founding of the Department in 1944.
In her role as Director, she is responsible for the Department’s operations that include a $232 million budget, more than 2,458 employees, and asset management of 183 parks, 70,079 acres of parkland, over 210 miles of trails with staging areas, 5 equestrians centers, 14 lakes – 3 of which are boating and swimming lakes, 475 sports amenities such as futsal, basketball, tennis, lawn bowling and multipurpose fields, 42 swimming pools, 15 wildlife sanctuaries, and 10 nature centers that serve as a refuge for over 200 animals, amongst them hawks, bison, alpacas, snakes, owls, tortoise, ravens, and raccoons. Norma also directs the largest municipal golf system in the nation, consisting of 20 golf courses, in addition to the world-class Arboreta and Botanic Gardens – Descanso Gardens, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Virginia Robinson Gardens and South Coast Botanical Gardens and the Hollywood Bowl and Ford Theaters. She will also lead the Department during emergencies and natural disasters, where gyms, local parks, and regional facilities become shelters for residents and livestock, providing a safety-net for communities throughout Los Angeles County.
Norma will also serve as the Director of the Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District (RPOSD) administering Measure A (Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Protection Measure) dedicating $90 million annually, in perpetuity, in grant programs for Los Angeles County’s local parks, beaches and open space areas.
In 2016, Norma spearheaded the Countywide Parks Needs Assessment that identified park disparities in high and very high need park neighborhoods, especially in low-income communities of color. This adopted report was instrumental in the passage of Measure A, which was the first equity ballot measure in Los Angeles County dedicating resources to refurbish park amenities and build new parks.
Norma brings extensive knowledge and experience to the Department with her continuous service of 17 years at the County of Los Angeles. Norma had recently been appointed as the Department’s Acting Director since March 27, 2020. Previously, she served as the Chief Deputy Director since September of 2016, in which she was also the first woman to serve in that role. Formerly, she served as the Deputy Director for the Department’s Planning and Development Agency. While going to college, Norma worked as a recurrent park and recreation leader as a coach teaching softball, basketball, volleyball, and cheerleading.
During the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, as Acting Director, Norma led the Department to continuously offer access to parks and open spaces for respite, mental, physical and emotional well-being, while following the proper public health restrictions. Norma convened over 90 Park and Recreation Agencies and cities in Los Angeles County to create protocols and safety measures that would secure the recovery process of the reopening for park amenities (stage 1-3) in partnership with the Department of Public Health.
“I am deeply honored and humbled to lead, especially during a time when we are faced with challenges and opportunities in the months and years ahead. Most immediately, we must navigate the COVID pandemic and the economic crisis it has created and make decisions about how we move forward by putting the health, safety and needs of our communities and employees first, said Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation Director, Norma Edith García. “Our parks are the backyard of Los Angeles County residents, and I look forward to leading the Department with empathy, a vision for equity, an unwavering commitment in serving our communities and working with the Board of Supervisors to create a pathway for Los Angeles County’s recovery”.
Norma is passionate about building thriving communities throughout the County and works tirelessly to achieve this through her active participation in many civic and professional organizations. She serves on the Board of the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO), Baldwin Hills Conservancy, Baldwin Hills Regional Conservation Authority (BHRCA) and the El Monte Promise Foundation. She served as a member of the Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees, the Chair of El Monte City Planning Commission and on the Board of the Watershed Conservation Authority (WCA), the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles River and Mountains Conservancy (RMC), the California Community Foundation’s Community Building Initiative, and on the Board of New Economics for Women.
Norma grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, where she visited Whittier Narrows Regional Park often and grew to love and appreciate the value of parks in her life and community. She is a daughter of immigrants and the first in her family to attend college. Norma graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Urban Planning. She and her adventurous family and husky enjoy everything about parks, bike-riding, camping, and tending to their vegetable garden, chickens, and beehive.
MEDIA INQUIRIES: Katie Martel, (213) 304-9863, firstname.lastname@example.org
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