Park People Timeline – 2010s


Friends Group interest from Doctor’s Park, Lindberg Park, Kosciuszko Park and Johnson’s Park.

Conflict of Interest Policy Adopted.

TPP has over 500 followers on FaceBook and Twitter.

Policy adopted on administrative fee for donations.

Policy on record retention adopted.

Advocates (along with POP) against charging for parking at War Memorial.

Gold Medal Award presented to Milwaukee County Parks. Celebration event with TPP, speaker Edee Daniels.

2006 Executive Director Search – 15 applicants, 12 qualified, in-depth screenings and interviews by TPP and MCPD and job is awarded to Jim Goulee. Jim had served as interim during the job-posting process which was conducted after downsizing.

Review of Employee Handbook shows outdated information. Board votes to toss out Handbook, no update to follow other than board policies as adopted.

New Executive Director streamlines meetings by consolidating fund requests, and allowing board on a consent agenda or remove items for discussion. Provides clarity as to donor fund tracking and intent.



The Park People, along with the Urban Ecology Center picked as the beneficiaries for the first Milwaukee Rock the Green. The Fray headlined a concert event billed as “the Midwest’s Near-Zero Waste Music Festival at Veterans Park. Other bands on the bill included Ben Folds, Fitz and the Tantrums, Michelle Branch, Christina Perri and Evan Christian. According to organizers, the concert’s mission is to educate and entertain “by combining a world-class concert with an interactive sustainability experience.” Rock the Green also has an endowment that supports efforts stressing building sustainable communities. The festival used clean energy and other practices to ensure near-zero waste and highlighted national sustainability innovators though exhibits and interactive education.

Started archiving quarterly newsletters on website.

Interest from potential Friends Groups, many are promoted by County Supervisor Jason Haas.

  • Saveland
  • Doctors
  • Chippewa
  • Morgan Triangle
  • Baran
  • Clark Square
  • Hollar
  • Wilson
  • Bender Park
  • Sherman Park
  • Garden Park Homes
  • Juneau Park Friends
  • Sheridan Park – applies for fiscal sponsorship
  • Juneau Park Friends – becomes their own 501(c)(3)

Friends of Sheridan Park apply for fiscal sponsorship.

REI Grant to support WeedOut!

Grants from Will Ross Foundation, Coles Family Foundation and Constance P Godfrey Trust.

Adopts Equal Opportunity Policy.

Memorandum of Understanding signed between TPP and Milwaukee County Parks Department on Membership Perks.

First Run for the Parks cosponsored by Bay View Neighborhood Association.

Friends Group of the Year Hoyt Park.

Annual Friends Group Meeting at O’Donnell Park with Speaker Edee Daniels and photos of parks and Candidate For County Board Supervisor Forum.



Launch of Oak Leaf Discovery Tour Passport Program.

Recognized by the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee for an Award for Excellence in Community Organizing.

County park system receives Leopold award for restoration efforts. The award, for work in restoring the ecological quality of the 10,000-acre county park system was given by Aldo Leopold Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. The award recognizes the county’s natural area program, which includes joint efforts with The Park People and others on a variety of projects, including removal of invasive species from natural areas of the parks; a youth conservation program; wildlife habitat restoration; and a college internship program.

Celebrates the Milwaukee County Park’s 105 anniversary with a “Family Fun Day” on at McKinley Park on the lakefront.

Highlights included local historian John Gurda, who talked about the history of the parks; children’s activities by the YMCA; the Klement’s Racing Sausages, the Door County Sled Dogs; the McMenamin Irish; an improv comedy show; disc golf demonstrations; a bounce house and a concert by K.T. and the Universal Love Band.

Direct Supply participates in employee volunteer events.

Fiscal Sponsorship approved for Friends of Doctor’s Park.

Friends Group interest expressed by:

  • Zeidler Park
  • Lincoln Park

REI and Wisconsin Energies grants to support Weed-Out!

Whole Foods picks TPP for Community Day Event

Wheel & Sprocket underwrites The Park People wall calendar.

PEP (Park Enhancement Plan) invitations sent out to Milwaukee businesses encouraging team building events around park projects in light of changes to union laws.

Juneau Park Friends starts their own 501(c)(3) and is no longer in need of the fiscal sponsorship from TPP.

Endowment received from Charlotte Staab estate, tree planted in her memory.

Insurance policy now covers Fiscally Sponsored Friends Groups.

TPP Advocates (along with POP) for Park District.

TPP has raised 3 million since inception for Milwaukee County Parks.

Friends Group of Year: Friends of Doctors Park.

Annual Friends Group Meeting at Greenfield Park. Speaker was Laura Albano on history of parks.

“The Park People” name trademarked.



New County Park’s Director John Dargle.

Milwaukee County Parks Department sets up Amenity Matching Fund to match dollars with entities that donate park amenities.

American Transmission Company makes grant for Weed Out Program.

TPP starts Friends Group Liaison Program and clarifies roles of what TPP can do for Friends Groups and Milwaukee County Parks Department.

Board Member Katie Williams writes thesis on Friends Groups and presents at Annual Friends Group Meeting. Thesis entitled: Urban parks, environmental justice, and voluntarism: The distribution of Friends of the Parks groups in Milwaukee County

Friends Group of the Year – Friends of Grant Park.

Susan Spoerk serves as President.

Annual Friends Group Meeting at Greenfield Park; Speaker discusses Thesis on Friends Groups.



Board Governance Policy Adopted.

Board member Barb Ali writes book 101 Things to Do in Milwaukee County Parks and The Park People links her blog on Milwaukee County Parks to its website.

The Park People Acorn Fund started. This fund was created by an anonymous donor earmarking the funds 100% towards operations. The donor noted that there are 15,000 acres of parks and that TPP was an important steward of the parks and donated $50,000 and also included TPP in her estate plan.

Joined AmazonSmile program.

TPP was approved to join the Community Shares Milwaukee Federation for workplace giving.

Sponsorship received from Kohl’s Go Green on park improvement projects. This was the fourth year of support from Kohl’s.

Received grant from Dorothy Inbush Foundation.

Newly started Friends Groups

  • Friends of Jacobus Park – intends to apply for fiscal sponsorship
  • Friends of Moody Park – did apply for fiscal sponsorship
  • Friends of Noyes Pool – intends to apply for fiscal sponsorship
  • Humboldt Park Watch – applied for fiscal sponsorship
  • Friends of Lindberg Park
  • Friends of Kern Park – interest

Fiscal Sponsorship approved for Friends of Center Street Park and Friends of Noyes Park Pool.

Five year annual grant from MillerCoors for cleanup of South Shore Beach.

Policy adopted on protesting sale of any park land. Potential sale of O’Donnell Park was of concern.

Media Policy adopted.

TPP educates community on report by Public Policy Foundation entitled Pulling Back the Curtain: Assessing the needs of major arts, cultural, recreational, and entertainment assets in Milwaukee County.

Advocates (along with POP) against the sale of O’Donnell Park.

Friends Group of the Year. Friends of Sheridan Park.

Volunteer of the Year: Chris and Amelia Kegel (Wheel & Sprocket).

Annual Friends Group Meeting at North Point Light House. Speaker discusses on 101 Things to do in Parks.



Studied supportive Park Non-Profits throughout the country to adopt best-practices. Best practices noted from Seattle Parks Foundation, Montgomery Parks, and Fairfax, Virginia. Common theme of successful Park Support Groups includes a strong membership program driven by a perk of value.

President Elect model adopted to ensure pipeline of leadership succession.

WeedOut! Reports approximately 370 volunteers for 2015.

Trademark registrations for Park People, Friends of Milwaukee County Parks, Park People Friends of Milwaukee County Parks, Park People Oak Leaf Discovery Tour and Oak Leaf Discovery Tour.

Education provided to board on roles of Preserve our Parks and Parks Advisory Counsel and Milwaukee County Trails Council and how missions compare or contrast with TPP.

Fiscal sponsorship approved for St. Francis All Abilities Playground at Greene Park.

Trail Maps published with sponsorship from Wheel & Sprocket, used to support Oak Leaf Discovery Tour program.

Friends Group fiscal sponsorship applications:

  • Friends of Pulaski – Cudahy
  • Friends of Lincoln Park
  • Friends of Morgan Park
  • Friends of Wedgewood

Fiscal Sponsorship approved for Friends of Jacobus Park.

Grant from Wisconsin Energies Foundation to support Weed-Out!

Grant from Godfrey Foundation.

Advocates (along with POP) that any sales tax increase should include parks.

Advocates (along with POP) against County being able to sell parkland.

Friends Group of the Year: Friends of Estabrook Park.

Volunteer of the Year: Emily Heller, for her work on Oak Leaf Discovery Tour.

Annual Friends Group Meeting at Domes. Speaker discusses the Parks and Friends Groups and use of Social Media.



The Park People revised the Advocacy policy recognizing the duplication of efforts with Preserve our Parks (POP) and becomes more focused on raising funds and creating and supporting Friends Groups.

Update and review all internal governance policies and post to shared Google drive for Board of Directors.

In anticipation of the 40th Anniversary, Board Member and President Susan Spoerk, starts a timeline project. Finds some information in a 25th Anniversary Booklet . Reviews past minutes, meets with past Presidents and Executive Directors to add to the original timeline and bring to date.

Adopted new mission: Our mission is to support Milwaukee County Parks by educating stakeholders about Milwaukee County parks, encouraging park improvement through Friends Groups, coordinating Weed-Out® programs and accepting and honoring donor intent of charitable contributions while balancing long term park viability.

Adopted new vision: “Treasuring our Parks”

Adopted new value statements.

Set target of membership goal of 1% of Milwaukee County Adults or 6,000. Currently at 200 and the most TPP ever had was 450.

Friends of Brown Deer Park started new Friends Group.

Kay Hernen hired as bookkeeper and to assist in succession planning for Jim Goulee. Kay works with auditor Barb Lasky to review and improve operations including moving to an accrual basis for accounting to be GAAP compliant.

Milwaukee County Parks budget includes three new key roles which will interface with TPP, including Trails Coordinator, Fund Development Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

The Park People co-sponsors Chinese Lantern Festival held at Boerner Botanical Gardens, event lasts five weeks with record breaking attendance.

Friends Group interest expressed by:

  • Cathedral Square Park

Friends Group of Year: Friends of Pulaski Park.

Volunteer of Year – John Lunz for work on TPP Board and WeedOut!

Friends Group/Annual Meeting combined at China Lights Festival. Speakers include new Friends Group Coordinator.

Board reviews and refreshes and adopts where needed internal policies. Policies date stamped with changes and centralized on a Google Drive. Policies include:

  • Advocacy
  • Administrative Fee
  • Bank Designation
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Donation
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Media
  • Leadership Succession
  • Policy on Policies
  • Preserve Our Parks
  • Restricted Funds
  • Record Retention
  • Sunset Policy



Park Perks launched to drive value to membership by providing valuable coupons to Milwaukee County Park attractions.

Annual $1,000 grant to support board member volunteer hours from Thomson Reuters now up to $5,000.

Kate Ciurlik serves as President.

Dave Kinnamon awarded status of Director Emeritus.

Susan Spoerk named The Park People Historian. Susan wrote the 40th Anniversary Timeline. The intent is for one version to be more inclusive and used by the Board of Directors to help guide decision making to serve the Mission of The Park People. The other version will be shorter and posted to The Park People website to educate the community on what we do and also provide information to potential donors and members to assure them TPP is worthy of investment to help support our treasured Milwaukee County Parks. Currently the long version is posted to the website allowing the community to provide updates and corrections.

Executive Director Jim Goulee retires after over a decade of dedicated service to The Park People.

New Executive Director Dawn St. George hired. Dawn has served in leadership roles at several non-profits including Wisconsin Historical Society, Old World Wisconsin, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee. Dawn received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and also has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a B.S. in Elementry Education from Western Michigan.



Executive Director Dawn St. George resigns to take on another opportunity with a non-profit.

Guy Smith appointed as new Director of Milwaukee County Parks.

Friends Group of the Year – Lincoln Park.

Barry Waddell hired as Executive Director. Barry started and led Friends of LaFollette.

The Park People Participate in the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Open Tables.

New Friends Groups include Smith and Tiefenthaler.

Nadine Weske serves as President.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Milwaukee County Parks partner on a new dedicated parks fund. The Milwaukee County Parks Fund provides an option for individuals and businesses to donate to future park improvement projects. All donations to the Fund will go toward projects that make Milwaukee County Parks an even better system in our community, including the areas of: playgrounds, trails & natural areas, community centers, aquatic facilities, parkways & bridges, and athletic facilities.


Beginnings   |   1990s   |   2000s   |   2010s   |   Complete History

*Corrections or additions to the timeline can be submitted to The Park People at [email protected]