Dixon nominates city parks chief

Wanda S. Durden served as interim director of recreation department in Washington

May 31, 2008|By John Fritze | John Fritze,Sun photographer

Wanda S. Durden, a former official at a government contracting firm who previously served as an interim director of Washington's parks department, was nominated as the director of Baltimore's Department of Recreation and Parks yesterday.

Durden, 40, would replace Connie A. Brown, who retired from the position in February. Durden most recently worked as the senior director of operations for Motir Services Inc. in Washington.

"The Department of Recreation and Parks is a vital, vital tool to help us with some of the systematic issues that impact us," Mayor Sheila Dixon said. "I really wanted to make sure that we had the right person for this job."

City officials said Durden served as director of sports development for Special Olympics International from 2001 to 2004. She also served as a program manager with the Atlanta committee for the Olympic Games in 1996.

The city's parks department has struggled because almost all of its money comes from the city's general fund, which is where police, fire and other agencies compete for money, as well. The department, which is budgeted to receive $27.2 million from the $1.3 billion general fund, will have to make cuts this year.

"Recreation and parks is that fabric that brings together all the diversity and our communities - it brings us together," Durden said. "It implores us to develop those programs and services to help support and nurture our young people."

Durden, who would receive a $125,000 salary, has a master's degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and a bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her appointment is subject to approval by the City Council.

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