Walsh also appoints Syracuse native and youth recreation professional Jimmy Oliver to Deputy Commissioner
Syracuse, N.Y. – Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh today announced the appointment of Julie LaFave as the city’s new commissioner of Parks Recreation and Youth Programs. LaFave, deputy commissioner of the department since January, has more than 15 years of public and private recreation management experience. Walsh also named Jimmy Oliver, a Syracuse native with a strong background in youth recreation, as the new deputy commissioner.
“Julie LaFave is an energetic leader who has been doing an outstanding job as deputy commissioner since joining the city at the start of the year,” said Mayor Walsh. “Julie brings the right skills in operations, administration, facilities, and recreation to lead our parks. She loves Syracuse, and I know she will give everything she’s got to make our facilities, operations, programs and workplace the best they can be.”
LaFave is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP). Before joining the city, LaFave was the director of parks and recreation in the Town of Sullivan and also held recreation management positions in the Town of Cicero and in Minot, North Dakota. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education from Central Michigan University and has a Master’s degree in Recreation Administration from Frostburg State University.
Since joining the city, LaFave has developed strong working relationships with neighborhood groups and parks associations in the city and has been pursuing and advancing grant-supported construction projects to upgrade parks facilities. She’s also begun addressing improvements to administrative practices, program registration and customer service. LaFave has been responsible for day-to-day operations of the department reporting to Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens since late March.
Jimmy Oliver, the new deputy commissioner of Parks Recreation and Youth programs, returned home to Syracuse earlier this year bringing strong recreation expertise from his work in Virginia. Oliver served as senior recreation specialist for the Lynchburg Parks and Recreation Department from 2016 to 2017. Previously, he held senior positions at the Boys & Girls Clubs in Greater Lynchburg and Metro Richmond. Oliver worked at the Boys & Girls Club of Syracuse from 2002 to 2012. He went to Henninger High School and attended Cazenovia College and Le Moyne College.
“Jimmy grew up in our parks and started his career working with young people in our city,” Mayor Walsh said. “We’re glad to have him back home and to have his experience in programming and facilities on our parks team.”
The Department of Parks Recreations and Youth Programs runs recreational, educational, and fitness programs at indoor and outdoor parks spaces covering more than 70 facilities and over 1,000 acres. With more than 250 year round employees, it is responsible for special events, senior programs, aquatics, adult programs, ice rinks, golf courses, youth programs, forestry and grounds, as well as dog control.