Monday, December 15, 2014

Top State Professional & Volunteer are with NOVA Parks

NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) is thrilled to announce that two members of its team took home the top awards given to individuals at the 2014 Virginia Recreation and Park Society Conference this week. Brian Knapp, the current NOVA Parks Chairman, won the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award, in recognition of an individual’s dedication and contributions to the parks and/or recreation field.  Blythe Russian, who serves as Operations Superintendent for NOVA Parks, won the Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of professionals who have displayed continuous outstanding service to the profession and community.

Brian Knapp has served on the City of Fairfax, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) since 1999. He spent most of these years as the Chairman of PRAB from 2002 to 2010 and 2013 to present. Mr. Knapp has also served on the Board of NOVA Parks since 2007, a 50-plus year old authority that is made up of six jurisdictions in Northern Virginia including the City of Fairfax. Since 2011, Mr. Knapp has served as the Chairman of NOVA Parks and led both agencies to excel in the delivery of comprehensive, quality and award winning parks and services.

In addition to the two local park agencies, Brian Knapp is also on the Board of the National Recreation and Parks Association.

“A heartfelt congratulations to Brian Knapp for receiving the Distinguished Volunteer Award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association. “In working with our Board of Directors, I get to witness Brian’s dedication and contributions to parks across the country on a regular basis and know this is a well-deserved recognition. I am also pleased to congratulate another NOVA Parks professional, Blythe Russian for receiving the Top Professional in Virginia Award. Earning both of these distinguished awards speaks volumes about the quality of the parks and professionals in northern Virginia.”

Blythe Russian has worked in the Parks and Recreation field for many years. As a professional, she has continuously displayed an amazing level and degree of dedication, commitment, energy, enthusiasm, support and involvement. Her positive attitude and leadership capabilities are remarkable, not only within her respective job roles, but through her involvement in VRPS.

Over the last 6 years, Blythe has worked with NOVA Parks, in which she serves as a Park Operations Superintendent. In this capacity, she is responsible for the oversight and supervision of 11 of the Park Authority’s 25 Regional Parks, consisting of approximately 5,000 acres of parkland. She manages and oversees the Park Managers at her respective parks, working closely with them to ensure park operations in all facets of the park are run effectively and efficiently.

“The excellence of the award winning projects was evident and we offer our congratulations to each winner for their outstanding contributions to the profession and their community,” said VRPS President Art Thatcher.

“It is a great honor to work with both Brian and Blythe on a regular basis. It is wonderful that the state association has recognized what many in our area already know - that Brian Knapp is an amazing leader on the governance side, and that Blythe Russian is an amazing leader on the professional staff side,” remarked Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of NOVA Parks. “It is because we have such a remarkable team that NOVA Parks has been able to grow our park system with seven new parks in the last seven years, and new programs and features that make our region a remarkable place to live,” continued Gilbert.
NOVA Parks also received two other VRPS awards. MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts) was selected for the Distinguished Private Sector Service Award for their work with NOVA Parks on the mountain bike trail at Fountainhead Regional ParkThe NOVA Parks marketing team also took home the Best Promotional Effort Award for its Atrium at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens wedding guide book.

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