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Mar 06

Steve Baru is JCPRD board chair for 2019

Posted on March 6, 2019 at 8:42 AM by Becky Burnside

Continuing to provide quality park and recreation experiences for a growing population is among the challenges Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board of Commissioner Chair Steve Baru sees ahead for the agency in the coming year.  

"JCPRD helps to facilitate play for all ages and all abilities," said Baru, who was elected chair for the coming year during the board's Feb. 20 meeting. “We evolved from play and wild places; it’s in our DNA to seek them out occasionally and it’s critical to our quality of life.  That is the experience we at JCPRD are challenged to provide. Among our strengths is our excellent staff, who have designed and implemented award-winning programs for the entire community, miles of bike/hike trails, and accessible playgrounds for children of all abilities.  Investing in park and recreation has been a success on many levels including financially. There is well documented evidence that our park and recreation system brings in more value and funds to the county than we spend." 

Meeting the needs of patrons while continuing to take care of the natural resources entrusted to it are among Baru's major goals for the coming year.

"Climate change affects our parks, golf courses, and streamway trails, and we must be vigilant and ready to respond to new non-native pests and diseases, protecting our tree canopy, and the species that exist under it," he said. "Our bike/hike trails are becoming overcrowded in some places, and I hope we can begin the planning process of building wider and/or divided trails with more benches."

The new chair also encourages input from the public. 

“On behalf of the JCPRD board, we invite feedback," Baru said. "Before each meeting we have a public comment session.  Please feel free to come before the board with comments and questions.  You may also email me at [email protected]

Baru has been a member of the JCPRD board since August 2009. During that time, he has served in every board officer position, including a previous term as chair.

Since May 2013, Baru has been employed as a Senior Retirement Education Specialist for a large firm in Overland Park, which specializes in the management of retirement plans for large firms around the country. He holds both a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Kansas. His undergraduate studies included international trade and finance and public finance, while his MBA included concentrations in finance, international business, and strategic management.

Baru is a native of the Kansas City area and a 60-year resident of Johnson County. His community activities are many and varied. He has been involved with the Sierra Club and its national organization including serving on several national committees, and as chair and a member of the board of directors of the Kansas Chapter. He is a member of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and has served on the State and Federal Affairs Committee, and the Transportation Task Force. He has served on the Kansas Department of Transportation's Long-Range Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, the Mid-America Regional Council's South Connector Study Group, the Kansas City Metro Regional Transit Alliance, and was a board member and chair of the Workforce Investment Board for Wyandotte, Johnson, and Leavenworth counties. 

In Johnson County, he has been on the County Arterial Road Network Plan Taskforce, the Johnson County Transportation Advisory Board, the Intermodal Transportation Committee, the South Metro Connector Partnership Advisory Board, the Johnson County Citizens' Visioning Committee, and the Johnson County Public Works Strategic Planning Committee.

Other Board officers for 2019 elected during the board’s February meeting are: Leslee Rivarola, vice chair; George J. Schlagel, secretary; Jeff Meyers, assistant secretary; Paul Snider, treasurer; Steven C. Klika, Board of County Commission Member, and Board Members Bob Carlson and Heather Rubesch.