Tracey Perkosky, previously employed by the City of Bothell as parks planning and grants manager before COVID-19 costs and decreasing revenues caused layoffs in June, began her new job as executive director of Key Pen Parks July 27.
The position opened after the sudden death of Scott Gallacher, affectionately nicknamed “Park Daddy,” in April — the only executive director the young district has ever known.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Perkosky said. “There are a couple of things that really attracted me to Key Pen Parks; one of those is that sense of community, volunteerism and involvement that really comes from both a more rural area and a smaller service area.”
Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District Commissioner Ed Robison, in his 11th year on the board and serving as president this year, said hiring a new executive director was the single most important and critical decision he’d ever helped make for the district. “The second was buying Elmer Anderson’s property to make Gateway Park.”
“We (the commissioners) were all in agreement that Tracey was the right one for the job,” Robison said. “We took advantage of Bothell’s loss. With her experience level and capabilities, we would never have been able to get her otherwise.”
The initial round of formal applicant interviews were conducted remotely and included a good number of community panelists and others with relevant experience, including park staff and longtime volunteers, to help commissioners hire the best fit for the district.
“Her answers in the final round convinced us this wasn’t going to be a short term stay, but for the rest of her career,” Robison said.
“My career has spanned an interesting path,” Perkosky said. “I worked in the not-for-profit world and my job there was to network innovative cities and counties –– what was one city doing that was cool that could be shared with someone else? I learned a lot about local government and how all those pieces work together.”
She worked in the private sector in the early 2000s, helping cities and counties find, write and manage grants. Perkosky said the work was fun but included lots of travel and she missed being at home. She also missed the satisfaction of watching the projects she helped put together come to fruition.
Perkosky began her career at a local government in Southern California. From there she moved up and more into finance work, moving to St. Helena in Northern California. There she said she was beginning to feel a little burned out. Largely working with numbers and without much direct contact with the public, she felt she was missing something.
“The interim city manager there saw something in me that I am incredibly grateful he saw,” Perkosky said. “He tapped me to be the interim recreation director as the previous director stepped down. Oh my, I just fell in love. I fell in love with communities and development all over again.”
She worked with youth and supported adult men’s softball teams. “Doing a complete redo of the entire softball field was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” she said.
Eventually Perkosky headed north to Washington where she took a position with the City of Bothell as the parks planning and grants manager, “still wanting to be in that realm, wanting to use my community facilitation skills and again — build real things — and provide great places for people.”
“I think we see it now more with COVID. As we struggle to figure all this out, where do we go for refuge for our physical and our mental health? We go outside,” she said.
A couple of months into her job in Bothell, she was once again plunged into the role of interim director after the previous director left.
“It was a great opportunity to learn hard and learn fast,” Perkosky said. “Through that I was involved in a land acquisition, bought a really big park, and made a huge impact on a community in perpetuity.
“I’m really just beginning my outreach into the community. I met with the Key Peninsula Council at their last meeting and my eyes actually watered up, because of all the support, all the people reaching out and offering help and wanting to learn and continue partnerships. It not only felt really good but it speaks to the magic of this place.”