San Mateo Parks and Recreation Director, Sheila Canzian received the 2014 California Parks and Recreation Society’s (CPRS) Fellowship Hall of Fame award during the annual CPRS Conference in Ontario, California on March 7th. CPRS Executive Director, Jane Adams will present the award to Sheila at the Monday, March 17th City Council meeting. Sheila will also be recognized by the San Mateo City Council for her accomplishments in leading San Mateo’s Parks and Recreation Department and for her contributions to the San Mateo community as well as the Parks and Recreation industry.
“No one is more deserving of this award than Sheila,” says Larry Patterson, San Mateo City Manager. “You can see the results of her leadership throughout the community. With Sheila’s vision and attention to detail, San Mateo has the most well-planned, carefully designed, and well-used parks and recreation centers along the Peninsula. The City of San Mateo is fortunate to have Sheila at the helm of its Parks and Recreation Department.”
The Fellowship Hall of Fame Award honors and recognizes an individual within the parks and recreation profession who throughout their career and through their membership in CPRS has significantly contributed to and influenced both CPRS and the parks and recreation profession.
Sheila’s accomplishments are an embodiment of this award. Some of the highlights of her career include: leading the team that created the Spring Eggstravaganza, which is now a popular community tradition of 37-years. She is a champion of children’s needs and created San Mateo’s afterschool childcare programs in the early 80’s and forged a partnership with the San Mateo Police Department that ultimately led to the creation of the Police Activities League (PAL).
Sheila’s most lasting legacy will be many outstanding facility improvements that the San Mateo community will enjoy for generations. Her projects show a distinct and refined eye for design ensuring an outcome that blends harmoniously in its environment, is beautiful, and functional. Among these include the creation of San Mateo’s Senior Center, the transformation of the Poplar Creek Golf Course, turning Shoreline Parks into a regional asset that perfectly synchronizes use and environmental sensitivity, and redeveloping Laurelwood Park to celebrate and enhance its natural characteristics.
Her work will continue along this vein as the San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department embarks upon the Central Park Master Plan, which will serve as the planning document to guide improvements and renovations to San Mateo’s most beloved park. As the outreach efforts begin, Sheila’s insight and sensitivity to hear competing interests from community members will be instrumental in developing solutions that satisfy a variety of needs.
Sheila’s career with San Mateo began as a playground volunteer in 1969, then continuing in a variety of recreation leader and support roles while in school, she was appointed Assistant Supervisor in 1975 shortly after graduating from the University of San Francisco. She moved upward quickly through several positions before being appointed Recreation Superintendent in 1986, then Director of Parks and Recreation in 1990 where she continues to serve.
Cliff Robbins, Chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission has had the opportunity to observe first hand Sheila’s vision, leadership, and management skills and how they contribute to the overall quality of our community.
“It is generally agreed among civic leaders and the broader community that the Parks and Recreation Department is a well-led and well-managed department that makes a significant contribution to the quality of our community,” Robbins stated. “For twenty-three years, Sheila has been the leader of that department and deserves much credit for fostering this culture of excellence.”
The City of San Mateo is extremely proud that Sheila has been recognized by her CPRS peers and celebrates the honor of the Fellowship Hall of Fame Award.