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Louisville Metro names new parks executive director after long search

Large trees next to a beautiful pond
Ryan Van Velzer
Louisville's Parks Department was without a permanent leader for more than a year.

Louisville Metro named a longtime city employee as the new director of the parks department.

Louisville Metro named Michelle King the new executive director of Parks and Recreation on Friday following an 18-month search for candidates.

King is a longtime city employee with Louisville’s Air Pollution Control District. She started in 2005. Her last title was assistant director overseeing programs such as “Lawn care for cleaner air,” which encouraged residents to switch to electric lawn mowers. She has degrees in law and environmental science and policy from Indiana University and Morehead State University.

Though King has no formal experience in parks management, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said Friday after a nationwide search, he believes she has the know-how to lead the agency.

“She knows our parks, she knows metro government, and she's earned a reputation, well deserved, as a highly effective communicator and collaborator. Michelle is someone who listens, who learns and helps others that she's working with do the same,” Greenbergs said at the Metro Hall announcement.

King will take over the department next month from interim executive director Ozzy Gibson, who is also the interim executive director of TARC, and the permanent director of Louisville Metro Animal Services.

King says she’ll begin her tenure by listening and learning from parks officials about the department’s strengths, needs and gaps.

“As a lifelong Louisvillian I know what an asset our parks and recreation spaces are to our community and how important they are to our wellbeing and quality of life,” King said. “I’m not here to change the direction, I’m here to further it.”

As director, King will inherit the comprehensive plan to improve the city’s more than 120 parks, pools, community centers, golf courses and parkways unveiled last year.

Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.

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