Alumni Notes

ALUMNA APPOINTED AS L.A. COUNTY’S PARKS DIRECTOR

Norma Edith García-Gonzalez BA ’95, MA UP ’99 is the new director of Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District, becoming the first woman and first person of color to serve in this capacity.

As parks director, García-Gonzalez’s position touches all corners of Los Angeles. She is responsible for the department’s operations, including a $232-million budget, more than 2,000 employees, 183 parks, 70,079 acres of parkland, more than 210 miles of trails, five equestrian centers, 14 lakes, 475 sports amenities, 42 swimming pools, 15 wildlife sanctuaries and 10 nature centers that serve as a refuge for more than 200 animals. And then there’s a handful of county-operated arboreta and botanic gardens, outdoor performance venues like the Hollywood Bowl, plus the largest municipal golf system in the nation, which consists of 20 courses.

García-Gonzalez brings 17 years of experience working for the county. During her time as acting director of parks, she led efforts to keep the parks available to Angelenos during the COVID-19 crisis. As director, she will continue to lead the department during emergencies and natural disasters, providing support for communities when gyms, regional facilities and local parks are needed as shelters for residents and livestock.

In 2016, García-Gonzalez helped with an equity ballot measure in L.A. County aimed at directing resources to refurbish park amenities in high-need neighborhoods, particularly in low-income communities of color.

In a Parks and Recreation news release, García-Gonzalez said, “Our parks are the backyard of Los Angeles County residents, and I look forward to leading the department with empathy, a vision for equity, an unwavering commitment in serving our communities and working with the Board of Supervisors to create a pathway for Los Angeles County’s recovery.”


 

UCLA ALUM SHOWS HOW FUNNY MANAGING A CITY CAN BE

Tim Casey MPA ’77, the retired city manager of Laguna Niguel, kept notes of some of the funnier and most memorable moments throughout his professional journey, always hoping to document those moments in a book. The time is now here.

The Mayor Married Who?” is a fun insider’s look at the daily challenges, unexpected curveballs, occasionally embarrassing failures, and successful triumphs that local elected officials and professional administrators face every day in our city halls and county halls of administration.

Through short stories capturing a 40-year management career, Casey’s sense of humor, passion for public service and compassion for others permeate every chapter.

His work is now available in paperback and digital form through Amazon. The book is also featured among publications from the International City/County Management Association.


MURATA RETIRES FROM MENTAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT

After 35 years, Dennis Murata MSW ’84 retired from his role as deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.

Murata was a longtime advocate for underserved communities, as well as cultural and ethnic diversity and inclusion.

After graduating from UCLA, his first county role was psychiatric social worker. In addition to his role as deputy director, he held positions such as acting chief deputy director and served in a leadership role in many of the department’s major initiatives, including implementation of the Mental Health Services Act.

Murata was selected as the Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year in 2007 at UCLA.

 

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