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Volume XXVI, Number 5403
Monday, May 02, 2011

Betsy Smith Receives The Commissioner's Award

Photo by Daniel Avila

When Elizabeth “Betsy” Smith began at Parks in 2002 as Chief of Marketing and Sponsored Events, she immediately brought a new professionalism, fresh perspective, and leadership to the group. Betsy set out to improve the production, quality, and content of our Parks produced events. She helped the unit incorporate diverse themes that promote the Parks mission. Our Parks-produced events now welcome record crowds and promote healthy lifestyles and active use of our parks with themes like “Adventures NYC” and “Winter Jam.” This refocus of events also brought in new sponsorship dollars parlaying many companies, such as Backpacker Magazine and Red Bull, into long term partnerships with Parks. Betsy has also grown our Adopt-a-Park program to new levels bringing in $1.25 million dollars last year.

In 2007, Betsy was asked to lead the Revenue division, while maintaining her current portfolio of Citywide Special Events and Marketing. Again, she provided strong leadership and organization. Her first task was to register our more than 400 concession contracts with the Comptroller’s office. This was a monumental undertaking lasting nearly two years and required tremendous intra–City coordination including forming a new relationship with the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

In addition to oversight of the Citywide Special Events, Marketing and Revenue offices, Betsy also has a large menu of other projects for the agency. She has been serving as the Project Manager for Parks’ Strategic Plan. This ongoing project has involved immense coordination among many people and divisions throughout the agency. We are all excited by the progress of this plan and the impact it will have. Betsy also works very closely with many of our nonprofit partners helping them work through special events and concession negotiations while also offering general advice and guidance. She has taken on the new identity campaign for Parks that will have a new “cleaned up logo” and brand for the agency that moves us into the 21st century.

Betsy always likes to think in terms of “the big picture” and legacy projects. She has certainly broadened our horizons and led two divisions at Parks that are professional, streamlined, forward-thinking, and can meet the needs of Park patrons who expect the best. She made it her mission to improve the quality of special events, the quality and variety of food offerings at Parks, and the quality of our concessionaires. The evidence can be seen in the numbers. During her tenure at Parks, we collected almost $250 million in revenues for special events, marketing and concessions.

Betsy joined Parks after years in the private sector engaged in commercial banking, venture capital, leveraged buyouts, and private client and finance work at Sotheby’s. She is from Westchester and has two daughters, Hannah in Shanghai and Elizabeth who just graduated from Yale and moved to NYC. She is engaged to be married this May to Rick Cotton.

The Commissioner's Award was presented at the Parks Annual Awards Ceremony on March 30.


“We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.”

President Obama

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