Corporate Director of Waterparks
Kalahari Resorts and Convention Centers
Sandusky, Ohio/Pocono Mountains, Penn./Wisconsin Dells, Wis. - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," June 2017
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
My true education is 34 years as a lifeguard and 27 years of managing pools/waterparks including time spent at Adventure Landing, American Red Cross, City of Miami and Kalahari Resorts. I have a B.A. in economics from the University of Alabama-Birmingham and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am a Certified Pool Operator and an American Red Cross Instructor Trainer in Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructor.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
I am most proud of the Children’s Services “Real Hero of the Year” Award in Palm Beach County, Florida in 2005. I collaborated with mayors, city managers and civic leaders of the tri-city area of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay to secure an aquatics grant used to teach the underserved area swim lessons and water safety courses.
WHAT MADE YOU GO IN TO THIS FIELD?
I received my lifeguard certification in 1983 as a means to pay for college. My studies focused on accounting and economics with a desire of entering the business world. I was blessed to work for some great aquatic organizations and by the time I attained my MBA, the waterpark bug had bitten me and I have never looked back.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
In this industry, you can truly be whatever you want with commitment and hard work. We take a line level associate, build and train a team with similar qualities and watch them grow into upper-level positions. The directors or managers at several of our resorts started off as my lifeguards or leads. As our organization grows, it is imperative that we continue to build upon our most valuable resources—our staff!
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
My first pool manager I had when I was a 15-year- old lifeguard and not the best listener. He was very direct and made it quite clear how important decision-making was and that I was making lifelong choices even at that age. Although it took some time to resonate, somehow his words helped guide me through the years.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
Finding a balance in an industry that is very demanding. I’ve worked at a seasonal organization and one open 365 days and staffed 24/7. The pace of working at a year-round park can be consuming at times. I have found it imperative to maintain a balance in the time dedicated to my profession and my family.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
With almost 1,000 lifeguards in three states, it is my job to ensure they never lose sight of safety. Also, one of the great things about this business is no two days are ever the same so I’m ready for anything that comes up.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
Choose a growing organization that emphasizes safety and takes care of the employees. Take any advanced certification courses that are offered. Give your maximum effort on every assigned task. You will be surprised where it takes you.
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I am a history buff and find inspiration through learning about past historical events. History teaches us that we learn from our mistakes or we are doomed to repeat them...I would rather not.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
I truly enjoy watching the growth of the staff, regardless of whether or not they stay in the industry. The leadership skills they learn in the waterpark are transferable to any career path they take.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
I am where I need to be and have no regrets.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
I believe it was the 2009 convention in Orlando where I spoke with several others. I was hooked!
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
That I would ever make it through an Ohio winter after leaving Miami.