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."
Larry Scott Blackmon is the Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach. In this role, Mr. Blackmon directs the Parks Department's efforts to foster and grow relationships with constituents by shaping and crafting policy and activities geared toward community coordination, development, and management.
Mr. Blackmon primarily focuses on the oversight of Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of the City Parks Foundation and the Parks Department that works to spur greater community support for and involvement in the City's neighborhood parks. He also supervises Government Relations, Arts & Antiquities, the Citywide Services division, which manages the maintenance of the Arsenal, special events at the Arsenal, and operation of the zoo garage, as well as the GreenThumb division, which supports the operations of more than 600 community gardens throughout New York City. He also manages the Parks Department's relationship with NYC Service, and focuses on expanding our volunteer recruitment efforts.
For the past several years, Mr. Blackmon has dedicated himself to public service and community development. Prior to his arrival at Parks, Mr. Blackmon served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs at New York City Department of Small Business Services. Prior to his arrival at Small Business Services, Mr. Blackmon worked for the New York Jets of the National Football League where he served as the Senior Manager for Public Affairs.
Mr. Blackmon brings tremendous government experience to Parks as he has worked with a large number of New York City's elected officials, including current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and former City Council Member Kathryn Freed. He has also worked with many federal and state representatives such as U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and former U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks and Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright.
Mr. Blackmon lives in Harlem and is an active member of the community. Mr. Blackmon is a graduate of the Coro Leadership New York program and a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society. He earned a B.A. in 1996 from the State University of New York College at New Paltz and a Masters in Public Administration in 2007 from Metropolitan College of New York where he also serves as an adjunct professor.
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.