Meet the Deputy Commissioners
Liam Kavanagh is the First Deputy Commissioner at Parks & Recreation. A lifelong New Yorker, Mr. Kavanagh was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx, and now resides in Brooklyn. A graduate of the City University's Herbert H. Lehman College, Mr. Kavanagh joined Parks in 1981. He has served as Brooklyn Forestry Director, Deputy Chief of Operations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and Chief of Operations in Manhattan before his appointment as Deputy Commissioner by Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on February 25, 2002.
As First Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Kavanagh oversees efforts to improve the quality and increase the number of well maintained greenspaces in public parks throughout New York. He traces his involvement in the field to the renovation of the gardens along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in 1989, where a great gardener and a willing crew of helpers transformed a lackluster landscape into a showpiece. It remains one of his most memorable projects and it demonstrated the tremendous opportunities for growing great gardens in parks throughout the City. "People respond positively to well maintained greenspaces," Mr. Kavanagh notes, "they've become a hallmark of successful public spaces."
Therese Braddick is the Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects for the City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation. She leads over 300 architects, landscape architects, engineers and budget staff responsible for investing $300 million annually in parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
For six years prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Braddick held two titles: Director of Historic Houses for Parks and Executive Director of the Historic House Trust. During this time, she raised millions of dollars, both public and private, for historic house projects; directed the re-branding of the Trust; and increased the Trust’s services to Parks’ 22 historic properties, addressing education programming and long-term planning needs, in addition to emergency repairs, capital improvements and maintenance issues.
Prior to her work with the Trust, Ms. Braddick served as Deputy Director and Director of Development for the City Parks Foundation where she also raised millions of dollars and managed complex restoration projects including the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Central Park.
Ms. Braddick first joined Parks in 1983 as an Urban Park Ranger. Two years later, she moved to Natural Resources Group (NRG), first as Education Coordinator in 1985, and then was promoted to the Deputy Director in 1986. Returning to the Rangers in 1987, she served as a Director, where she managed the 100-member uniformed division. From 1990 to 1992, Ms. Braddick was the Chief of Staff to Queens Borough Commissioner Oliver Spellman. She has a degree in Resource Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She lives in Queens with her husband.
Robert L. Garafola is Parks & Recreation’s Deputy Commissioner for Management and Budget. In this position, he oversees more than 15 of the agency’s central administrative divisions, including Budget, Personnel, Marketing and Special Events, Operations & Management Planning, and Revenue, which brings in over $100 million yearly. Additionally, he directs the administration of the Parks Opportunity Program (POP)—one of the largest paid transitional employment programs in the country. Since 1994, POP has helped over 10,700 New Yorkers obtain jobs and move from public assistance to the world of work.
After earning an MA in City Planning from Harvard University and working as a consultant for a planning and development company in Westchester County, Mr. Garafola served as the Budget Director at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development. In 1983, Mr. Garafola began at the Parks Department as the Assistant Commissioner for Management and Budget. In 1986, he was promoted to Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Garafola has been reappointed to his post by three successive Parks Commissioners.
In his tenure as Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Garafola has spearheaded several new programs and initiatives for the agency. In 1997, Mr. Garafola helped launch a citywide network of free computer and media labs in Recreation Centers to bridge the “digital divide.” He now oversees the administration of the 29 Computer Resource Centers (CRCs), which include more than 350 PCs and serve over 3,300 New Yorkers weekly. Citywide, the centers offer RecYouth Video, which teaches teens how to explore their parks and communities and express their vision through video and photography. Other notable highlights include a four-year span of managing 36 Parks Recreation Centers on a $17 million budget and developing the AAA concept: Arts, Afterschool, and Athleticism. He also developed the Jeter Afterschool Program and the highly successful Flag football league, the Parks Borough Cup and the Millennium and Emerald Basketball Tournament.
During his tenure, Mr. Garafola has helped put on events such as the Marathon, the NYC Triathalon, and the AIDS Walk and produced internal special events such as Adventures NYC with Backpacker Magazine, the Winter Snowscraper Event with RedBull, the Parks Chess Tournament in Central Park, and the Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival.
In his free time, Mr. Garafola enjoys kayaking, biking, and exploring parks in all five boroughs. Mr. Garafola is a life-long resident of New York City and currently resides in Manhattan.