Longtime Birmingham employee appointed as first female to lead Park and Recreation

Birmingham Public Information Office

With Shonae Eddins-Bennett are Park and Recreation Board members, from left, Councilor William Parker, Montal Morton, Larry Cockrell, Ronald Mitchell and former Birmingham Mayor Bernard Kincaid (City of Birmingham)

The Birmingham Park and Recreation Board has appointed longtime city employee Shonae Eddins-Bennett as director of the city’s parks, recreation centers, swimming pools and other facilities. Eddins-Bennett is the first female to hold the position.

“I’m so excited to have Shonae as leader of Park and Recreation,’’ said Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “Our city is on the move with emerging leaders like Shonae . . . she will help drive the change that we want to see in our community. She’s a trailblazer.’’

As director of Park and Recreation, Eddins-Bennett will oversee 115 parks, 18 recreation centers, 18 swimming pools, four community centers, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Legion Field and two golf courses. She will oversee more than 300 employees. Her appointment will become effective Monday, June 25.

Eddins-Bennett, a 27-year city of Birmingham employee, said the appointment was humbling. “This shows that females can do anything we set our minds to do. Preparation is key,’’ she said.

City Councilor and Park and Recreation Board Member William Parker said Eddins-Bennett will do well.

“Our parks are at the heart of many of our neighborhoods. They are special places where people meet for family reunions, ball games and picnics,’’ said Councilor Parker. “We all win with Shonae as the new director. She has a deep pride and big ideas for our city, our parks and facilities, and our residents.’’

Eddins-Bennett, a Birmingham native, is a graduate of A.H. Parker High School. She has an accounting degree from University of Alabama at Birmingham and a master’s degree in public administration from Strayer University.

Twenty-seven years ago, Eddins-Bennett worked for the City of Birmingham as a receptionist for the Birmingham City Council. She moved on to work as an accountant and senior accountant with the city’s Finance Department and then as a senior analyst and principal analyst with the city’s Community Development Department. She became chief analyst at the Birmingham CrossPlex and currently works as a chief analyst for Park and Recreation.

As director, some of her plans include building stronger working relationships with the park board, the Mayor’s Office, the Birmingham City Council, other city departments and the community. She also wants to improve tracking of progress on park projects, address complaints and concerns in a timely matter, provide safe and open park spaces, and look at ways to develop and improve existing parks.

“I want to offer our management team and employees more training in their areas of expertise to help keep them abreast of growing trends in the park and recreation industry,’’ she said. “Also, we are in the early stage of providing an all-inclusive playground. I am really excited about this project, and I know there will be more to come.”