After a comprehensive, nationwide recruitment effort, the City of Santa Rosa has named Donté Watson as its new Director of Recreation and Parks.
Mr. Watson has most recently served as the Acting Assistant Director of Parks Recreation and Youth Development for the City of Oakland, where he supervises over 109 employees and oversees a budget of $26 million. Under his purview, Mr. Watson is responsible for 140 parks, six aquatic facilities, 68 fields, 42 tennis courts, 24 community centers, four cultural arts facilities, three nature centers, two boating centers, five historic estates, 27 dog parks, 13 community gardens, four skate parks, an equestrian center, and a full-service fitness, gym, and indoor aquatic facility. Mr. Watson is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional, bringing over twenty years of demonstrated and progressive leadership experience in recreation program development, operations, and facilities management.
During his tenure with the City of Oakland, Mr. Watson directed several facility renovations and installations, most notably the master planning of the historic Mosswood Recreation Center and Jack London Aquatic Center. Before his experience as Acting Assistant Director, Mr. Watson served in various Recreation Supervisor roles and as Recreation Center Director for the cities of Oakland and San Leandro, where he coordinated and boosted attendance to significant citywide events, served as department liaison to the citywide Homeless Taskforce/Encampment Management Team, and worked collaboratively with community stakeholders to prepare appropriate programming and mitigate food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mr. Watson has a well-established record of building a rich sense of community through recreational activities and programs for youth and adults,” explains City Manager Maraskeshia Smith. “With his extensive experience and commitment to public service, I am confident he will deliver top-notch recreational programming and facilities management to our community, further solidifying Santa Rosa’s as the region’s premier Recreation and Parks Department.”
“I am eager to join the incredible team at the City of Santa Rosa,” Mr. Watson said. “I look forward to meeting with staff and the community, and together, we will build vibrant, inclusive, and memorable recreational experiences for all residents.”
The Director of Recreation and Parks is a recently reinstated Director position that received approval during the most recent budget cycle. Mr. Watson will start on Nov. 6, 2023.