Mayor Fred Butler announced today that he has chosen Jeff Watling as Issaquah's next parks and recreation director.
"I'm thrilled to welcome Jeff to Issaquah – otherwise known by our nickname, Trailhead City – where we are a regional destination for outdoor recreation,” Butler said. "Jeff's breadth of experience in customer service, parks planning and open space preservation is an excellent addition to our team and community."
Watling brings more than 24 years of professional parks and recreation experience to Issaquah, after serving most recently as the parks, recreation and community services director for the City of Kent, which serves 125,000 residents. During his 10-year tenure, Watling established Kent's first Parks and Recreation Commission, as well as the Green Kent Partnership with Forterra to help restore Kent's forested parks, wetlands and other natural areas.
Before joining the City of Kent, Watling served as the parks and recreation director for the City of Sammamish from 2000-06, where he completed Sammamish's first Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, and preserved more than 270 acres of land for future active and passive parks.
Watling graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in history. He also completed the Executive Management Program from the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Administration.
"Our parks and recreation opportunities play a major role in enhancing our citizens' quality of life," Watling said. "Issaquah provides a breathtaking venue to offer such important services. I'm excited to work toward the City’s goal of building a healthier community while enhancing our regionally-known parks and recreation programs."
Issaquah's previous director, Anne McGill, retired in March, after working for the Issaquah Parks & Recreation Department for 33 years, including 13 as director.
Watling will join the City Aug. 1, 2016.