The city of College Station announces the hiring of a new parks and recreation director.
Kelsey Heiden is expected to start in November after spending the last two years as an assistant director in Pflugerville and Leander, and before that was in New Braunfels for 15 years in various parks and recreation positions.
Heiden will oversee College Station’s 56 parks, two senior centers, the Lincoln recreation center, two pools, two cemeteries, and other amenities.
Heiden takes over for Steve Wright, who left earlier this summer after he joined the city in 2020 following the retirement of David Schmitz.
News release from the city of College Station:
The City of College Station has named Kelsey Heiden as director of Parks and Recreation. She is expected to start in late November.
Heiden has almost 18 years of experience in the industry and replaces Steve Wright, who served as director since 2020. She was the assistant director of parks and recreation in Pflugerville since 2022 and was the assistant director in Leander from 2021-22.
Before that, Heiden spent more than 15 years with the City of New Braunfels, serving as recreation center manager (2017-21), marketing coordinator (2012-17), park operations administrative assistant (2011-12), recreation specialist (2007-11), and recreation instructor (2006-07).
“Kelsey comes to us with almost two decades of experience in the industry and an incredible passion for parks,” College Station Assistant City Manager Jennifer Prochazka said. “We are grateful that she and her family are ready to start a new chapter in College Station.”
Heiden earned a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration from Texas State in 2011 and a master’s in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire in 2019.
“I’m honored to be selected to serve the College Station community and continue the Parks and Recreation Department’s outstanding level of service and pursuit of excellence,” Heiden said. “I’m looking forward to working alongside such a dedicated staff in a beautiful community that takes pride in its quality of life. My family and I are thrilled about this wonderful opportunity.”
In Pflugerville, Heiden oversaw a $7.6 million annual budget and recently implemented a Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Master Plan. She also established a landscape contract to enhance the beautification of parks and city facilities. In Leander, she managed 600 acres of parkland and led a team of 50 employees.
As the manager of New Braunfels’ 14,000-member recreation center, Heiden supervised 157 employees and managed a $2.6 million annual budget. She also played a crucial role in the New Braunfels Parks and Recreation department receiving national accreditation in 2020.
Heiden is a two-time recipient of the Texas Recreation and Park Society’s Young Professional Award and graduated from the organization’s leadership academy in 2018. She also serves on the review team for the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies and attended the National Parks and Recreation Association’s Director’s School in 2021.
The nationally accredited College Station Parks and Recreation Department has an annual $11.5 million budget and manages 56 developed parks covering about 1,900 acres. The city operates an amphitheater and festival site, two senior centers, a full-service recreation center, two pools, two cemeteries, a nature center, 42 miles of walking trails, a skate park, an all-abilities playground, and an inventory of fields and diamonds that regularly host state and national tournaments.