Ricardo Zavala (H2009)

Placement: Department of Parks and Recreation, Greenspace Management

What I Worked On: I worked on 3 major projects as a Fellow:

(1) Citizen Park Inspector (CPI program). The mission of this program is to have citizens be partners in inspecting their city parks and informing the Parks Department (HPARD) of maintenance needs. HPARD wants to empower citizens to be our extra set of eyes because our staff cannot be at all 369 city parks all the time. So I recruited and trained 10 citizen volunteers to do monthly inspections of city parks they lived next to and to submit those inspections online. I also wrote policy & procedures for this program, created an inspection form, created a volunteer waiver, training manual, webpage language, brochure, certificate, the thank you letter from the Director, and a recognition day for these citizens at City Hall by Council Members.

(2) Signature Program – The mission of this program is to inform citizens of the mowing schedule of their city parks and to introduce the maintenance staff, by name, to the public. This program also creates ownership and pride amongst HPARD staff who maintain the park grounds. I created policy and procedures for this program, including a maintenance sheet, presented before a governmental council to request grant funding for more outdoor bulletin boards (kiosks), wrote a bid request to gather quotes from vendors, chose a contractor to build 23 kiosks, helped coordinate and install all 23 kiosks, standardized locks on all 51 wooden kiosks, standardized locks on 9 metal kiosks and coordinated repair of 13 existing kiosks.

(3) Open Forums – The mission of these forums were to address the concerns and uplift the morale of the park ground maintenance staff. I co-facilitated these meetings between the Deputy Director of Greenspace and the park maintenance staff.

Hometown: Austin, TX

School: Texas State University

Field of Study: Political Science

Selected Honors: National Dean’s List, Golden Key International Honour Society

Selected Activities and Community Involvement: Community Development Commissioner for the city of Austin, Co-Chair for Citizen Advisory Council for Widen Elementary

Prior Work Experience: Intern for Congressman Lloyd Doggett and Staff Assistant for State Senator Frank Madla

Why Houston is important to me: Being a fifth generation Texan, working in Houston allows me to see Texas’s largest local government in action and how city policy can truly affect the lives of citizens.

Something unique about me: I like to perform Spoken Word poetry in my spare time.

What I’m Doing Now: I now work for the City of Austin. But I stayed on with Houston’s Parks and Rec Department for over a year after my Fellowship ended, continuing to implement many of the initiatives I began as a Fellow.

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