The Houston Parks and Recreation Department was originally created by City Ordinance as the Department of Public Parks on May 15, 1916. At that time the department’s inventory included Sam Houston Park and Hermann Park (Code of Ordinances City of Houston, Chapter 32, Article 1, Section 32-2). Today, the Department inventory has grown to include 381 developed parks and more than 167 greenspaces and totals over 39,501 acres. The Department is nationally accredited through the National Recreation and Park Association’s (NRPA) Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies.
MISSION AND VISION
The Department’s mission and vision statements underscore its commitment to an inclusive, equitable and balanced park system that provides engaging recreational programming for people of all abilities, ages, and socio-economic levels.
The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) is composed of 7 divisions: The Director’s Office, Recreation and Wellness Division, Greenspace Management, Facilities Management and Development, Management and Finance, Urban Park Rangers and Safety, and Communications.
Kenneth Allen was appointed Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department on September 1, 2021, by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Mr. Allen is a Houston native with 36 years of professional experience in the Parks and Recreation Field. A graduate of Houston Madison High School and Indiana University, and studies at Clemson University, he has worked in the Houston parks and Recreation Department for 28 years- with the last 11 serving as the Department’s Assistant Director Recreation and Wellness.
In that role, he oversaw a $20 million budget, managing adult sports programming, permits and reservations, aquatic facilities, tennis centers, tennis courts, after-school and summer meals programs, municipal golf courses, and Adaptive Sports and Recreation. His experience also includes oversite of the City’s Central Greenspace Region. In this capacity his responsibilities included maintenance and management of parks greenspace inventory, crew assignments, and greenspace project management for the region.
He is also experienced in partnership building and advocating for recreational program funding. His notable accomplishments are his management of the Department’s partnership with the Houston Police Activities League (PAL), advocating for funding on Capitol Hill for the Department’s acclaimed Soccer for Success Program, and his management role in the Department’s CAPRA Accreditation team. Director Allen has also served as the Parks Department’s host to the U.S. Youth Games in Houston and the Houston Corporate Games. He worked with the World Golf Foundation’s National First Tee organization to establish the Houston First Tee Program at FM Law Park, then oversaw and managed its operation. Under his leadership, the Houston First Tee Program at FM Law Park was recognized as one of the country’s largest and most successful in the nation.
As Director of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, he is responsible for overseeing the stewardship of the City’s parkland, urban forests and greenspaces, park facilities and buildings, recreational programming and activities, parks budget management, and facilities management. He administers a staff of approximately 700 full-time and seasonal employees.
Director Allen is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association and has proven experience in building community programs and facilities through partnerships, corporate sponsorships, and grants. He brings a diverse wealth of experience in all aspects of the Department’s operations, a passion for neighborhood parks, and a commitment to ensuring all City Greenspaces are well-maintained, inviting, safe, and quality recreational programming is available to people of all ages and abilities.