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Meet the new bosses at Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation

New director of Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation, Jennifer Cirillo, and deputy director, Paul Connell.

Photos by Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation.

Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Director Eric Call left some big shoes to fill when he retired Sept. 30 after a career that stretched back to Ronald Reagan’s presidential administration and included the past 12 years in charge.

Less than a week after Call’s retirement, PBC Parks announced its new director, Jennifer Cirillo, and deputy director, Paul Connell.

“I’ve been with the Parks & Recreation Department for more than 30 years,” Connell says, “so Eric and I worked together on a lot of projects.”

Cirillo has served Palm Beach County for 18 years, the past 12 as PBC Parks’ assistant director. She was instrumental in helping the department earn the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management in 2018 and in becoming a finalist for the award in 2017.

She has since served on the National Gold Medal Award Committee and recently received the Florida Recreation and Park Association Achievement Award for her service to the parks, recreation and leisure services profession.

“Jennifer is now responsible for the overall operation of the department,” Connell says, “and I’ll assist her as the deputy, including handling most of the human resources issues.”

Connell has worked for the department since 1991 and is the former director of special facilities. His responsibilities covered a variety of cultural and recreational services, including five golf facilities, three amphitheaters, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, and the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center, as well as concessions and special events.

“As director of special facilities, I was reporting directly to Eric,” Connell says. “Just prior to him retiring, Jennifer was appointed to his position. That essentially freed up her previous position to be advertised, and I found out that I’d been selected to fill it.”

Palm Beach County’s Parks & Recreation Department is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It separated from the direction of the County Engineer’s Office in 1972.

The department had 41 facilities when Call started in 1983. Today, it has 110, featuring everything from beachfront areas, swimming pools, multipurpose fields and golf courses to tennis and pickleball courts, playgrounds, dog parks and equestrian trails, making PBC Parks the 11th-largest such agency in the country.

“Parks by their very nature are the centerpieces of every community,” Call says. “It is truly amazing to see all the parks and facilities we added.”

Further expansion is on the table as the population of Florida increases, especially in South Florida.

“PBC Parks is a very busy department,” Connell says. “We serve an important need for Palm Beach County residents, and making sure that we fulfill those needs is one of my main objectives. We do have park properties that are undeveloped, and our goal would be to develop those over time and as funds are available.”

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