You might say Jackie Gonzalez is living proof of the idea that “it takes a village.”
She says it’s been the support she’s received from
other aquatics professionals that has helped propel her to her
current position, aquatics manager for Park Ridge Park
District in Illinois. To help give others that same
opportunity, she is serving as the chair of the National Recreation and Park
Association aquatics network. This online community of aquatics
professionals was established in 2010 when the organization
As one of the first leaders of the new network, she is responsible
for building the membership, establishing procedures, and keeping
information and discussion current. She’s also something of a
liaison between the industry and NRPA leadership.
“Aquatics is one of those fields where we have such high-risk
jobs, and things are changing so quickly that it’s very
important to stay on top of what’s going on,” says
Gonzalez, who was a swimmer growing up, and graduated from Western
For Gonzalez — honored as a Professional of the Year (2011)
and Aquatics Supervisor of the Year (2009) by theIllinois Park and
Recreation Association — having a trusted group of
professionals to turn to has also given her an outlet to simply
commiserate and share experiences, good and bad.
“It’s been such a fantastic opportunity because I know
so many people from across the country that I can ask questions
to,” she notes.
Gonzalez, 36, anticipates the NRPA aquatics network will provide a
similar outlet. She hopes the online format allows members to make
connections on an ongoing basis, rather than just a few times a
year at live conferences.
Looking back, it was a previous supervisor who introduced her to
NRPA. Gonzales served as the Aquatics Conference chair in 2010 and
2011, and today she hopes to bring her past experience to a wider
audience. Her goal as chair is to double network membership and set
strong precedents for the future. “We can only gain momentum
from here,” Gonzalez says.