Parks Salutes Its Employees Of The Month
Queens Borough Commissioner Dottie Lewandowski is a Commissioner’s Employee of the Month for June.
Commissioner Lewandowski joined Parks in 1979 as a Park Ranger in Prospect Park. She was one of a select group of summer rangers asked to remain as a year-round employee. Little did she know then that this first band of Rangers would play such an accomplished and continuing role in the health of New York City’s natural environment, as well as in the development of New York City’s park system. Dottie served as an Operations Manager in the Bronx and Queens until she became Chief of Operations for the Bronx in 1994. She led the Bronx parks to new heights while working with Borough Commissioner Bill Castro, building partnerships in all corners of the borough and orchestrating the renaissance of Orchard Beach into one the premier recreation facilities in the City.
In 2002, she was appointed as Queens Borough Commissioner. Born and raised in Queens, Dottie said at the time of her appointment, "I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to help Commissioner Benepe move forward with Parks and Recreation, particularly in a borough where I’ve spent almost three-quarters of my career."
Dottie works closely with AMPS and also serves as the leader of the Operations Workflow for Strategic Plan. She is an avid kayaker, traversing many of the water bodies of New York City. When hearing about Commissioner Benepe’s idea that at least 5% of the job should be fun, she immediately immersed herself in the opportunity to develop a citywide kayak trail that connects city parks through a series of waterways.
For her years of outstanding service, Dottie was nominated by Commissioner Benepe.
Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey is a Commissioner’s Employee of the Month for June.
Commissioner Jeffrey also got his start as part of the first class of Urban Park Rangers in 1979. His dedication to and love of parks is as prevalent now as it was then.
During his tenure with NYC Parks he supervised the Mounted Rangers Unit and served as Executive Director of the Parks Enforcement Patrol, Chief of Operations of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and Brooklyn’s Chief of Recreation. Kevin left NYC Parks to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Recreation, Programs and Services with the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He was later appointed Regional Director of State Parks holdings in New York City.
Kevin again returned to Brooklyn in 1997, taking on the role of Executive Director of the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA where he spearheaded the task of revitalizing this large urban youth facility.
Kevin was appointed Deputy Commissioner for Public Programs in April 2002. In 2010, he was appointed to his current position as Brooklyn Borough Commissioner – a dream job for the long-time Brooklyn resident.
Kevin is known as a bit of a risk-taker. He has been known to have gotten caught in storms while deep at sea while fishing for Mako sharks. Even his culinary specialty of cooking delicious fried turkeys potentially run the risk of damaging the surrounding location.
He resides in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and is a devoted father. He spends his free time enjoying hiking, boating, fishing, and other outdoor activities with his family.
For his dedication to Parks, Kevin was nominated by Commissioner Benepe.
Paul Fontana is the Public Programs Employee of the Month for June.
Paul began his career at Parks as a Recruitment Specialist in Personnel in May 2008. In May 2011, he joined the Public Programs team as Chief of Staff to Assistant Commissioner Annika Holder. Paul immediately immersed himself in the role. With virtually an entire new staff in the Public Programs office, Paul strategically began to manage the office and the boroughs with a “Let us not focus on what it is, but what it should be” philosophy, a philosophy that continues today and positions the division to achieve many of its goals.
Paul manages many key initiatives, including the Swim for Life program and the use of AMPS to track over 1,000 pieces of fitness equipment. Paul also dedicates his time to writing grants, connecting with perspective donors/sponsors, and conducting site visits and audits. He has also played a critical role in the designing of measurement and evaluation tools, writing newsletters and, most importantly, working closely with division managers to improve services, reduce redundancy, and maximize resources.
If that is not enough, Paul has recently worked to develop and implement “CenterStat,” which will serve as a forum for managers to highlight their accomplishments and address their failures in a supportive and learning community.
Paul is smart, talented, and savvy. He is the first into the office each morning, and the last to head home at night. He uses his previous work experience to enhance the division, from navigating civil service rules to making the best lasagna ever eaten.
Because he gives 115% of himself and exemplifies what it means to put in the extra effort to get the job done, Paul was nominated by Assistant Commissioner for Public Programs Annika Holder.