Parks and Recreation Department Director Lori Smeby has announced she will retire from the City of Richardson, effective June 2, 2023. Smeby joined the City in February 2015, and her retirement will conclude a four-decade career that started in Kentucky and includes positions with four North Texas communities.
As director of Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department, Smeby is responsible for the management and maintenance of the City’s nearly 1,000 acres of parkland, more than 90 miles of trails, and an array of recreation, athletic and aquatic programs. The position is also highly visible in the community, with many public interactions related to recreation programming and community events, most notably Richardson’s signature Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival and the Cottonwood Arts Festival.
“Since joining our executive team in 2015, Lori has been an innovative, committed leader, helping us elevate our parks and recreation amenities and services to a superior level,” said Richardson City Manager Don Magner. “Lori has accomplished much during her tenure, including creating a culture focused on customer service and quality programming. We thank her for her service and dedication to our community and wish her the very best as she begins the next exciting phase of her journey.”
Smeby’s tenure has seen the development and completion of many impactful projects, including:
- Construction of the Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground;
- Renovation of the Richardson Senior Center and Memorial Park;
- Expansion of the Spring Creek Nature Area and development of entry portals;
- Completion of the 2022 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan;
- Master planning of the Trident/Apollo Road Property;
- Extension of the Duck Creek Trail;
- Creation of Pawtoberfest;
- Oversight of multiple 2015 and 2021 bond projects; and
- Emergency response and recovery efforts related COVID-19, the October 2019 tornado, multiple winter storms, and sheltering for hurricane refugees.
“It has been a tremendous experience and honor to serve in this role in the Richardson community,” Smeby said. “Leaving a position and career like this can only be bittersweet, and I am so proud of the men and women with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work. We have been a part of some tremendous projects together, and I leave feeling blessed to have been part of such a dedicated team of people who truly make a difference.”
Smeby started her career her career in 1983 working for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a recreation leader at a vocational rehabilitation center. In 1985, she transitioned to the Girls Club of Sherman in North Texas, where she served as the program and executive director. Her first position in municipal public service began in 1989, when she took a position with the City of Arlington’s Parks and Recreation Department where she served in the titles of community programs manager, athletics and aquatics manager, and recreation center coordinator. In 1998, she transitioned to the City of Grapevine’s Parks and Recreation Department, where she served for five years as recreation superintendent. From 2003-15, Smeby served as assistant director of the Allen Parks and Recreation Department, which was her final position before coming to the City of Richardson.
Smeby holds a Bachelor of Science in natural resources management from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and has been a speaker/trainer for the Texas Recreation and Parks Society as well as other state and regional parks and recreation organizations.
A succession plan to find and hire a new director for Richardson’s Parks and Recreation Department is still being formulated and will be announced at a future date.