Director of Waterpark Operations
Ingleside Hotel & Springs Water Park
Waukesha, Wisconsin - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," April 2019
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I have a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Michigan. I also have been pursuing a master of arts degree in teaching with a local university here in Milwaukee.
WHAT CERTIFICATIONS OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am an Ellis & Associates Lifeguard Instructor and an Instructor Trainer candidate. I am also currently a Lifeguard Instructor with the American Red Cross and formerly an LGIT and WSIT (expired) with Red Cross as well. I also possess both an Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) and Certified Pool Operator (CPO) license.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
I earned my first lifeguard certification through the American Red Cross in 1985 at a summer pool as a high school student. I continued working in aquatics and recreation throughout high school and into college. By the time I graduated college, I knew where my passions lie.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I enjoy being a part of both the hospitality and recreation community. I truly love providing a safe and fun aquatic facility for our guests, and seeing our guests smile and enjoy themselves regularly!
WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?
Having been in the waterpark world for almost three decades now, I have had a great number of people who have influenced me. My greatest influence early on, however, was the lifeguard instructor who certified me and introduced me to the Ellis community, Tim Kopka. I quickly realized that we had a great deal in common relating to the safety of our facility and he quickly became my mentor. Unfortunately, Tim passed away in 2012, but will always remain an inspiration and a good friend.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER SO FAR?
I believe very strongly in keeping in tune with the latest trends and maintaining both certifications and education that allow you to stay current in your career. I have certainly learned the importance of attending educational sessions and opportunities like the World Waterpark Association annual conference and Ellis & Associates annual safety school.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
My motivation stems from building teams that allow aquatic facilities to be a place that our guests truly enjoy. I find it very motivating and rewarding to see young adults grow in maturity into positions of responsibility such as head lifeguard or waterpark supervisor. It’s hard not to feel a little paternal when you help develop and mentor a young adult into a seasoned aquatics professional managing an aquatic facility of their own.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
Anyone who has the enthusiasm to learn and grow can be successful in the waterpark industry, provided they have the passion to do so. If you already have an interest in safety or aquatics or operations, for example, I would fully encourage you to strive to take on a greater role at your facility. Continue to push yourself to except new challenges and responsibilities... the reward is worth it!
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I try to read management type books and my most recent read is called The Power of Moments
. It’s an exceptional book that talks about why certain experiences can elevate and how we can learn to create such extraordinary moments for ourselves for our staff and for guests in the workplace.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
I love meeting and getting to know our hotel and waterpark guests each day. My current position entails the direction of the waterpark’s operations at an indoor waterpark and hotel in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. This includes the waterpark, food and beverage outlets, arcade and activities team. Every day presents unique challenges, but also provides many fulfilling rewards.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH WWA?
I first became involved with WWA during the annual conference in 2009 at Disney’s Coronado Springs
Resort. I am excited to return again this year. Currently, I am involved as a member of the WWA Waterpark Resort Committee.