At its Jan. 17, 2018 meeting, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners approved a contract with Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill to return the MPRB. She will act as a consultant to current Superintendent Jayne Miller from Jan. 18, 2018 to Feb. 4, 2018, and then serve as Interim Superintendent from Feb. 5, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2018.
Current MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller announced last month that she is resigning effective Feb. 4, 2018, to take a position as CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The Superintendent Emeritus will fill out the remainder of Superintendent Miller’s contract while MPRB Commissioners conduct a search for a new Superintendent.
“Mary is uniquely qualified to serve as interim superintendent while the Board of Commissioners conducts a search for the next superintendent of our beloved park system,” said MPRB President Brad Bourn. “There are few stronger advocates for our city’s youth than her. During her career as a frontline employee at the Park Board, she helped design and implement the Youthline Outreach Mentorship Program, Teen Teamworks, Phat Summer and so many other youth programs that our families have relied on over the years. Enhancing that legacy will be a top priority for me and I hope this board for the next four years.”
Merrill has a long, distinguished history with the MPRB. She started in 1972 as Recreation Director at Powderhorn Park and rose through the ranks to become the first woman and first person of color to serve as MPRB Superintendent. Her tenure as Superintendent began March 1, 1999 and ended when she retired on Dec. 31, 2003.
After retiring, Merrill was elected as an At-Large Commissioner in 2005 and served on the Board from 2006 to 2009, which included two years as Board Vice President in 2008 and 2009. In that role, she helped develop the MPRB’s current Comprehensive Plan [PDF].
In 2009, Merrill was named Superintendent Emeritus by the MPRB, one of only three people to earn that honor in the 134-year history of the MPRB. She continued to serve the MPRB in many advisory capacities, ranging from chairing community advisory committees to helping bring in private donations for projects like the new playground at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.