National Parks & Recreation Month Staff Feature: Mary Beth O’Dell

Posted on July 7, 2021

mary beth

As the Director of Kettering’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts, Mary Beth O’Dell is committed to ensuring that the community has access to the highest quality parks and recreation experiences possible. Under her leadership, our department has been recognized with a host of honors, including several re-accreditations through CAPRA and the 2014 National Gold Medal.

“I like having the opportunity to serve the community and see the positive outcomes of our programs. I really enjoy working with our volunteers, advisory boards and the Kettering Parks Foundation. It’s also exciting to anticipate the success of our new staff members – we have a very strong group of professionals who are subject matter experts,” O’Dell said. “It’s hard not to like parks and recreation!”

Last year, the pandemic limited the ways we traditionally interact with customers and stakeholders. “COVID kept us from providing exceptional service,” O’Dell explained. “We usually lean toward saying yes, and having to dictate the rules and say no was difficult.”

Although the pandemic prevented us from providing our usual level of service, O’Dell is proud of the way the department rose to the challenges posed during the past year. “During the pandemic, we were super resilient. We were able to provide programming and keep our facilities safe. We provided these experiences while following the protocols to a T. We also discovered new ways of conducting programs that we can carry forward,” she said. “I’m also proud of how the parks department was able to keep working despite their limited resources.”

“We did the best we could with what we had last year,” O’Dell said. “I’m excited to re-engage now that we’re back and open for business!”

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