Manzo permanently takes over as parks, rec director for Lee
A new director and deputy director have been appointed for the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department.
After serving as acting director since April, Barbara Manzo was officially named to the post Friday by Lee County Manager Karen Hawes.
“I am glad to finally be the director, and now the department can move on and settle into the work ahead of us,” she said Tuesday.
A New York native, Manzo has 37 years of experience in professional parks and recreation. She is also a 19-year veteran of the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department.
The former director, John Yarbrough, retired in 2008.
“I was very fortunate to work under John,” Manzo said, emphasizing the partnership the two created while she served as deputy director.
Manzo said she enjoyed working with Yarbrough because he would focus on certain things, as would she. They would then collaborate their findings in order to make the other aware of what was going on.
According to a prepared statement by the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, Manzo is “a past president of the Florida Recreation and Parks Association, secretary of the U.S. Tennis Association Florida Executive Board and is an accreditation board reviewer of CAPRA, a national parks and recreation accrediting organization.”
Manzo said she would like to continue the same services the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department has provided in the past during these tough economic times.
“That is the challenge I was faced with,” she said.
Manzo explained that over the past couple of years, Lee County has been fortunate enough to take advantage of the great economic times.
“We were able to build and put in place all those facilities to match our growth,” she said.
Manzo said that now, as the director, she needs to help protect those assets and continue the services.
Dave Harner, who has served the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department for the past 19 years, replaces Manzo as deputy director, a post he has temporarily held since April.
“I am happy to have this opportunity,” he said. “I think we have a great department and we provide the services the community needs, and I think it shows with the amount of people who participate in our programs.”
Manzo said it was important to her to find the right deputy director so she could share with him or her the type of partnership she experienced with Yarbrough.
“It’s a team effort,” she said.
Harner said working with Manzo has been great because she is an excellent person to work for.
“I have worked with Barb for a really long time,” he said. “We have always got along well.”
Harner said he has been fortunate to work with Yarbrough and Manzo because they have taught him a great deal.
Harner’s past experiences include special events and education coordinator, athletics supervisor and administrative manger, according to a prepared statement.
Manzo and Harner will lead a department with a $26.8 million budget, 250 employees and more than 100 parks, preserves, facilities and other sites.
The Lee County Parks and Recreation Department manages recreation centers, community parks, conservation lands, greenways and blueways, baseball complexes and beach preserves.