Fairfax County Park Authority Changes, Additions

Fairfax County Park Authority Changes, Additions

Changes to enhance the gold standard they earned five times in the past.

Judy Pederson, center, with communications director Susan Kalish and new PIO Ben Boxer.

Judy Pederson, center, with communications director Susan Kalish and new PIO Ben Boxer.

The Fairfax County Park Authority is going through a few changes recently, beginning with the retirement of Judy Pederson, the public information officer for the past 20 years. 

“I was proud to be the spokesperson,” said Pederson, who has visited nearly 90 percent of the 420 parks in Fairfax County. “Every day is different,” she added.

Ben Boxer, a county employee for the past 17 years, will move into the role along with newcomer Susan Kalish, the new director in the FCPA office of marketing and communications. Boxer lives in Herndon and his home park that he grew up visiting is Frying Pan Park. Boxer now has five children who enjoy that park too.

Boxer’s children are all involved in the scouting program, which seems to go hand in hand with the activities at the parks, he said. “When you are a scout, the world is your classroom,” he said.

Kalish has worked in the park system in Arlington and Fairfax City, but is a resident of Fairfax County so she’s glad to be working in the Fairfax County Park Authority. “I’ve always been a park person,” Kalish said.

Pederson has been in front of notable events, many ribbon cuttings, plus more urgent events like the rabid coyote in Accotink, or an incident at one of the park centers where there was a fatal stabbing. She’s got her sights on a family residence in Solomons Island where she will retire. The FCPA will welcome her as a volunteer if she is in the area.

“I have a boat I haven’t been on for two years,” she said.

Boxer is an alumnus of Oakton High School and was working with the Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services for years in their communication’s department so he is familiar with county procedures. He’s seen a couple of other opportunities come open but jumped at the park possibility.

“I love the outdoors,” he said.

FCPA Reorganization

The Fairfax County Park Authority will now have four brand managers covering the golf courses, corporate messaging, resource management and park services which includes the recreation centers.

Jai Cole, Executive Director of the Fairfax County Park Authority, is made it her mission to visit all 420 parks her first year. “Finished that on public lands day last year,” she said. Cole was at the changing of the guard meeting with Pederson and Boxer.

Everyone at the park authority looks at the budget and the passage of bonds for funding, but much of the funding for operations comes from admission fees and rentals from park users. Sliding scales enable the lower income residents to also enjoy the park system. Cole noted that the quality of the parks needs to remain consistent throughout the county, and equity in accessibility of parks is a priority.

The park authority also has invested in translations, so signs and web material is available in several different languages. The park authority also hired a new videographer.