Dan Carpenter, Carver Recreation Center Manager, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I grew up in Bel Air, Maryland, about thirty miles east of Baltimore. After graduating college, I moved to the Pittsburgh area to start my career.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I am brand new to Charlottesville. Last June, my wife, Kelly, and I decided to spend our anniversary weekend visiting Charlottesville for the first time. We knew NOTHING about the city and were excited to come here because we wanted to visit Monticello. We spent three days here, and we fell in love with the city. We couldn’t stop talking about how neat the Downtown Mall and the City Market were. I happened to find some literature from the Parks and Recreation department and was very impressed. After leaving for home, we both decided it would be neat if a parks and recreation job opportunity ever arose in this area, and that we would love to live here. Less than a week later, I saw the Carver Recreation Center Manager job posted online. A few short months and a couple interviews later, I was blessed with the opportunity.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
We are currently renting a condo in the Pantops area. Hopefully our house in Pittsburgh will sell fast and we’ll find a house to settle into in the near future.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
Kelly and I have been married for almost thirteen years now. We have no kids yet, so we give our cat, Marvin, a lot of attention. Our extended family members live mostly in Maryland and West Virginia, so we do a lot of traveling.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
I am a 1999 graduate of Shepherd University in West Virginia. I have a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies with a concentration in Sports Management.
What were you doing before you came to work for the city?
Living in the Pittsburgh area, I served as the Program Coordinator and Communication Coordinator for Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation. Westmoreland is a large county, over 1,000 square miles in size with over 370,000 residents. I planned and implemented a variety of recreation programs, including large community festivals attracting anywhere from 10,000-25,000 attendees per day.
Your job title is Carver Recreation Center Manager – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I am responsible for the day to day operation of the Recreation Center including management of staff, maintenance concerns, patron safety, special events, and customer service (among many other responsibilities). More simply stated, it is my job to make sure that Carver is a fun place to be!
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
It’s is wonderful to be able to work in a profession where you get to see smiles every day. That is definitely the best part of my job. Charlottesville area residents love and appreciate all of the opportunities for recreation that we have in this city, and I get to hear the words “thank you” a lot. There is no greater motivation than that to do your best to serve the community. It makes me truly happy to come to work every day.
The most difficult part of the job is the fact that we are open ninety hours a week, and as manager it is my responsibility to be available at those times if our work team needs me. It’s definitely a lifestyle and not just a job. Thankfully, I have an amazing staff at Carver and an equally great group of co-workers with the Charlottesville Department of Parks and Recreation. It’s great to be on a positive team where everyone is working together to achieve the same goal.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
The benefits of a great parks and recreation program really are endless. These programs are typically not mandated functions of government, and the municipalities that have thriving parks and recreation agencies really stand out from the others that don’t. At Carver Recreation Center specifically, we are providing a safe and welcoming place for people of all ages, races, and ability levels to have fun. Whether it’s roller skating, exercising in the Fitness Center, visiting the drop-in Teen Center, taking a dance or gymnastics class, attending a special event such as a Father-Daughter Dance, or just playing basketball together as a family, we are doing our best to offer something that appeals to everyone.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the city?
Working with our Parks and Recreation team preparing to re-open Carver after the renovation process has definitely been interesting to say the least. It was a tremendous amount of work (a lot of which happened well before I came on board). Thank goodness for helpful co-workers! All that hard work has really paid off though. I am very proud to be the manager of this facility.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I met my wife, Kelly, on her first day of college. I was the Resident Assistant (RA) that checked her into her dormitory room.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I am a sports fanatic and a die-hard Steelers fan (the Terrible Towel is displayed proudly in my office). I also love bowling, and I coached a collegiate team before relocating to Charlottesville.