Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Performance Goals = Agency Success!

NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) has just taken the next step in becoming a truly high performance agency. It is all about boiling the strategic goals of the organization down to individual duties and making specific people accountable to achieving measurable goals.

Since 2007 we have had strategic plans that outlined the transformative steps that would build a stronger more effective park agency. In 2012 we generated our current 5 year plan. These plans have measurable results, and are tracked every six months to see how we are progressing. The results have been amazing! Becoming a goal oriented organization has resulted in new parks being acquired and developed, new programs, innovative facilities, cutting edge marketing and communications, and more.

Setting goals and achieving them has the added benefit of build morale and a sense of great momentum within the organization. It is hard to quantify this “X factor” but it is significant!

This month we took this to the next level, and everyone had very specific and measurable goals set for their individual performance. We have 120 full time employees and they all have goals now. The 72 that are grade 13 and above have more detailed measurable goals that relate to our current Strategic Plan. These are goals that go far beyond just doing a ‘good job.’ They are specific and they require staff to step outside the day-to-day and work on those transformative steps.

Based on how our agency performs financially over the coming year, there may be a pool of funds for performance incentives. Based on how individuals achieve their performance goals they can be eligible to participate in the performance incentive program.

This is organizational development:
  • Start with a mission & vision 
  • Develop a Strategic Plan that identifies the transformational steps that will lead to a stronger organization to better service to the public
  • Develop individual goals based on the Strategic Goals and hold people actable to results
  •  Reward great performance
  • Build energy and momentum for the next round of goals setting – Start over again 
I could not be prouder of the remarkable group of professionals that help this agency continue to exceed all expectations. Real teamwork is built over years, and is the result of a history of achieving goals. Implementing this ambition program of developing meaningful goals for everyone was an enormous task. It was done both on time and with great quality! Congratulations to all those involved.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Jean Packard's great life of contribution

I was extremely honored to have had Jean Packard as a friend and mentor for over 20 years. Her reputation as a civic and environmental leader was towering. But in person she was always kind, and unassuming. While she had strong opinions and fought for what she thought was right, she never said anything bad about those that did not agree with her. She was really a remarkable person. She served on the Board of the NOVA Parks for 24 years, and gave of her time and leadership to many other good groups. She will be missed.

On October 21, 2014, Jean R. Packard passed away in her home in Fairfax at age 91.  Mrs. Packard was the first woman to be elected Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors from 1972 – 1976.  During her term as Chairman, she led the effort to down-zone the Occoquan Watershed resulting in the protection of the Occoquan Reservoir, which today is the drinking water source for over one million people.
Packard served as a civic leader on many boards and commissions including: President of the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations, on the National Board for the Sierra Club, on the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation Board, Chairman of the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust Board, and 24 years on the NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) Board. 
On September 27, 2014, NOVA Parks broke ground on a new building at Occoquan Regional Park that will be called the ‘Jean R Packard Occoquan Center.’  Mrs. Packard was present for this celebration.  At that event, Congressman Gerry Connolly, Chairman Sharon Bulova and many others spoke about the tremendous contributions Jean Packard has made to our community.  Congressman Connolly noted the tremendous impact that Mrs. Packard has had as a tireless civic advocate for the environment.
Sharon Bulova, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said yesterday, “Jean was a true trailblazer for women leaders in Fairfax County.  She was a forward-thinking, passionate steward of the County’s parks and water and natural resources, and will be sincerely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing her.”
Some of Mrs. Packard’s colleagues on the NOVA Parks Board reflected on Jean with the following comments:
Brian Knapp, Chairman of NOVA Parks, from the City of Fairfax:
“For over twenty years, Jean served faithfully as a Director on the NOVA Parks Board, and she contributed to so many of our successes related to conservation and land preservation and protection of our environment here in Northern Virginia.  Her service and dedication to NOVA Parks will forever be treasured and remembered.”
Stella Koch, Vice Chairman of NOVA Parks, from Fairfax County:
“Jean has left an amazing legacy in Fairfax County, from her part in founding Nova Parks to her leadership as Chairman of the Board in Fairfax to her long standing involvement with the citizens associations throughout the County.  She will be remembered every day by the legacy that remains behind.”  
Laura Grape, NVRPA Board Member, from Fairfax County:
“Jean will always be remembered for embedding an environmental ethic into the story of Northern Virginia that will continue to enrich the region long into the future.”
Dan Kaseman, NOVA Parks Board Member, from Loudoun County:
“Jean taught me that the secret to a full and satisfying life is what we do for others.”
Paul Ferguson, NOVA Parks Board Member, from Arlington County:
“Jean Packard was one of our region’s great environmental leaders.  She will be remembered as a local government leader who was ahead of her time.  Jean will be missed but has provided an example that local leaders will continue to follow.”
Barry Buschow, NOVA Parks Board Member, from City of Falls Church:
“Many of us will never truly understand the extent or the impact Jean had on the quality of life in Northern Virginia.  From political to plain old elbow grease, Jean did it all to preserve and enrich our environment.  She will be missed but never forgotten.”
Paul Gilbert, NOVA Parks Executive Director:
“Jean was a mentor and friend to me and many others.  Her legacy is one of conservation of nature, as well as demonstrating political and civic engagement that was always civil and respectful.  All those who knew her were better because of that experience.”
Some of Jean Packard’s many awards and civic engagements include:
o    Metro Washington Council of Governments, Chairman
o    Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, Board Member
o    Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, Board Member
o    Sierra Club, National Board
o    Fairfax League of Women Voters, Board Member
o    Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, Chairman and Board Member
o    Fairfax County Community Appearance Alliance, Board Member
o    Fairfax County Citizen of the Year, Winner
o    Fairfax County Conservationist of the Year, Winner
o    Architecture Medal for Virginia Service, Winner
o    Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award, Winner
o    NVCT Lifetime Achievement Award, Winner
Mrs. Packard will be remembered at an event on Thursday, November 6, 2014, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna. The event is open to the public. The Atrium is located at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna Virginia

Friday, October 10, 2014

Alexandria Residents flock to NOVA Parks

The City of Alexandria just concluded a survey of 915 residents concerning NOVA Parks. While it is odd that the City Parks and Recreation Department would pay for a survey of parks that they do not operate, the results reaffirm how important NOVA Parks are to Alexandria residents.

55% of City Residents enjoy Cameron Run/Great Waves regularly. Out of those that use Cameron Run, 60% use the water park several times a year. Before this survey was done, NOVA Parks had shared with the City that over 30,000 City residents a year were using the Great Waves water park at Cameron Run. This survey just serves to confirm the high rate of use by City residents that was already documented.

It is encouraging to see hard numbers to support how much City residents use the NOVA Parks that are not located in the City. 31% of people from Alexandria are using the W&OD Trail. 19-20% of Alexandrians are using Pohick Bay Regional Park as well as Bull Run Regional Parks. Both of these parks are very large parks with a great deal of nature, trails, access to the water, camping and much more.

We all are part of the larger Northern Virginia Region and our lives do not begin or end at a City/County line. If you live in Alexandria and want an outdoor experience that includes hiking, camping, kayaking or other ways to connect to nature, you can have those experiences at a Regional Park that is not very far away. This was why the Regional Park system was set up 55 years ago. There are amenities that can not be easily replicated in each jurisdiction. But as a member of NOVA Parks, City residents have all be benefits of a wide variety of parks and amenities.

This survey confirms the high value the citizens of Alexandria place on NOVA Parks.