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Feb 25

Courtney expresses appreciation, looks forward to the next chapter of her life

Posted on February 25, 2022 at 1:54 PM by Becky Burnside

As Administration Manager Jo Ann Courtney prepares to retire on March 18 after 36 years with JCPRD, she’s proud of the agency-wide impacts she’s made on administrative services.  

“I really feel like I have made a difference in providing critical services to JCPRD including (but hopefully not limited to) budget creation of its three separate functions, which remain in force today; developing a performance management system based on employees’ requests for clarity in their performance expectations; policy development and updates; and other administrative forms and processes that have stood the test of time,” she said. “But I think my favorite accomplishment has been to be of service to staff and the board in helping with their wants, needs, and problem solving.”

Executive Director Jeff Stewart agrees.

“Jo Ann’s contributions to JCPRD and the Johnson County community during her 36 years of service has been instrumental to our successes,” Stewart said. “Her leadership and efforts have contributed significantly to the high standards, best practices, and national recognition that JCPRD has had for decades. Her contagious laugh and friendship with so many will continue to be enjoyed and appreciated as Jo Ann begins her next journey.”  

Courtney’s association with JCPRD began in in 1984, when she worked as a soccer scorekeeper for about two months. She became a full-time employee in October 1985 when she was hired as senior administration assistant. She was promoted to administration manager in March 1994. A native of Slater, Mo., Courtney holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from William Jewel College. Prior to coming to JCPRD, she worked for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics as a receptionist and for the National Collegiate Athletic Association where she was a department secretary and later the clerical supervisor for the agency’s legislative services division. 

Courtney prefaces a response as to why she stayed at JCPRD as long as she has with a favorite story.

“In my first couple of weeks here, our (then) Director of Parks and Recreation Gary Haller made what has become a staple comment here at JCPRD when he said, ‘Hey, gal; things are going to slow down pretty soon,’” she said. “I didn’t realize at the time that it would take 36+ years and retirement for things to slow down…or will they slow down?  Which leads to my answer – never a dull moment, incredible people who have come and gone throughout the years, amazing accomplishments in all functions of our JCPRD world, and having a purpose that benefited many.”

The best part of her job according to Courtney? “Getting to be creative and innovative and having freedom in developing and providing services for JCPRD.”

While there have been many proud moments for her along the way, she cites being involved in nine national accreditations and coordinating the last two resulting in 100% attainment of all 150 standards both times and being a part of a two-time national Gold Medal award-winning agency at the top of her list. 

“I know I didn’t do any of these alone, and it’s because of the great team JCPRD has that made it all possible,” she said. “Like I told the accreditation team, “Staff do the work. I just tell their story.”

She also expressed her appreciation to her coworkers. 

“In the ASV Division, we sometimes have a hard time getting out and seeing what our boots-on-the-ground staff do every day to provide such amazing services to our community and the people we serve,” she said. “Our employees in all divisions are truly amazing, and I want all to know how much they are appreciated and admired by me.”

Courtney gave a somewhat surprising answer when asked what she sees JCPRD’s greatest strength.

“While I normally would think my first response would be our people, I actually believe it is our product, which draws the incredible people who are a part of JCPRD,” she said. “We truly improve people’s lives. And our employees and board members are second to none.  So, I guess it’s a tandem answer – our product and our people.  Amazing.”

As to why she decided to retire at this time, she said “To everything there is a season, and it’s my time to say goodbye. I have experienced many wonderful things during my time at JCPRD, but life changes and priorities change.  I now have other things I want to do, plus I want to be free to do what I want to do when I want to do it.  Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying.  There has never been a day when I have felt I wanted to do something else (ok, maybe a few days where I did).  But to enjoy how you spend the majority of your waking hours for 36 trips around the sun is a blessing not many get to enjoy.  And I certainly have enjoyed my time at JCPRD.”

She certainly has no shortage of retirement plans!

“I have so many projects I want to do, places I want to visit, and grandchildren I want to spoil,” she said. “I’m excited to do some traveling. In fact, the morning after my last day at JCPRD, I’m flying to Boston for a few days and then up to Maine for a few days Later in the spring, I’m planning a week-long trip to Tucson. Then I’ll spend my summer in Maine as the summer office manager for a boys’ camp that is such a huge part of my family’s lives.”