There’s nothing quite like traveling to expand your creativity and your mindset for what’s possible to achieve in life. From new ways of solving problems to igniting your imagination, travel can do it all. Ann Marie Heiser is a parks and recreation specialist who uses her love of travel to fuel her drive and creativity at work. As a result, she’s implemented and coordinated many impactful projects and there’s no shortage of examples of how she’s positively transformed communities across the United States.
Ann Marie Heiser’s career, spanning nearly three decades, has taken her to five states and counting. Each new state or town provides Ann with unique opportunities and challenges that have pushed her to be more innovative in her field. Every new position allows her to grow both professionally and personally as she is given more responsibilities and more opportunities to see more of the country. Her professional journey began when Ann graduated from Lock Haven University with a Bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation. As Program Assistant for the Champaign Park District in Illinois, Ann gained several years of experience planning, organizing, implementing, and evaluating activities and programs for both youth and adults. Hungry for a new adventure and a greater challenge, Ann moved to Maryland after accepting a position as Program Director for the Wicomico County parks, recreation, and tourism department. While managing a staff of 30, supervising a park naturalist, liaising with two town councils, and overseeing summer camp programs, Mrs. Heiser also found time to implement new programs including therapeutic and environmental projects. The next stop on her professional tour of the country was Massachusetts where Ann worked as Parks and Recreation Director. In her six years holding this position, Ann enhanced the parks’ offerings and increased the number of programs as well as the community’s support. All in all, she helped oversee the development of 28 parks and four cemeteries. Mrs. Heiser was promoted to Community Services Director where she could further expand her impact by overseeing three departments and numerous community projects. After 10 years in Massachusetts, Ann Marie needed to move on, explore, and focus on a new challenge in a place that truly needed her. In Herndon, Virginia she became the Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation. The next seven years saw a major overhaul and transformation of the department with the initiation of new goals, budget, publicity, and implementation of programs that proved crucial to the success of the community. The next town to need her assistance was Allen, Texas. As Recreation Services Manager, Mrs. Heiser brought her years of experience and insight to turn the department into something the town could truly be proud of. With an overhaul of the budgetary process, a greater emphasis on teamwork and communication between departments, and a renewed initiative to enhance community engagement, Ann made the transformation look seamless. Even after the best and longest of travels, it’s always refreshing to find your way back home. In 2016, Ann Marie moved back to Illinois where she currently works as Recreation Manager for the city of Evanston. Here she can concentrate on what she does best while also planning her next adventure. When she’s not busy at work, Ann loves to explore the town where she lives to find hidden treasures and forge a strong connection with the community. Ann also recently took up travel photography as a fun hobby and can often be found practicing her skills and traveling to nearby towns to capture her unique perspective on camera.