The Maryland Recreation and Parks Association awarded Laurel resident, Christine Brett, with its highest award, lauding her 29 years of membership to the association and her hard work in Maryland recreation.
The MRPA gave Brett, the enterprise division chief at the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission, the Citation Award, after she was chosen by thousands of parks and recreation professionals across the state. Each year, the association chooses a recipient for the award who has demonstrated outstanding dedication.
“It’s a very coveted award,” Brett said. “It humbled me.”
As the division chief, Brett oversees management of all facilities that fall under “park amenities.” The M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks manages all the parks in the county, while the enterprise division manages anything with a rental or user fee. This includes ice rinks, tennis courts, golf courses, and other park establishments.
Brett said providing family recreation and leisure is what she enjoys the most out of her career.
“I like to think I have the fun part of the job,” Brett said. “I love watching a kid catch his first fish, or on the ferris wheel, or in our summer camps programs.”
She said the real challenging part of her career was managing the budget. Because recreation in her division requires a fee from users, it does not receive tax subsidies like public parks. Recently, Brett’s department has faced budget cuts, which have required the department to do “more with less,” Brett said.
Brett graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, down the street from where she grew up, with a degree in recreation and parks. The physical health and recreation program was canceled at the university, a decision that Brett fought along with other alumni.
After graduating, she eventually started working at Woodlawn Manor, an event center in Sandy Springs that hosts wedding receptions. She started working together with Woodlawn and Montgomery Parks, where she was promoted various times before becoming division chief. Serving on many internal committees, Brett met Marybeth Dugan, who nominated her for the Citation award this year.
“Everyone would want to have a Christine Brett on their team,” said Dugan, the director of the . “Christine is the epitome of a professional in our parks and recreational department.”
Dugan said that while Brett served as president of the MRPA in 2001-2002, she united recreation professionals across the state to fight in the General Assembly for the rights of parks in Maryland, which eventually Brett carried over to Capitol Hill.
“There’ve been a lot of professionals that either worked with her part time who or are now full time and in leadership capacities because she took the time to mentor,” Dugan said. “She took the time to be there for people who needed it.”
Brett lives in Laurel with her husband, who is retired from his career in parks and planning.