Name: Toni Woodard
Title: Director of Facilities and Hospitality
Team: Event Facilities
What is your role at The Parklands?
I oversee our events department here at The Parklands. We offer several amenities to reserve, including covered picnic shelters throughout our park system as well as our two event venues—Gheens Foundation Lodge and Hockensmith Barn. We host a variety of events at these locations. I also handle all of our large-scale events, 5K runs, commercial and group use permitting.
How does your team keep The Parklands fun?
We keep The Parklands fun because we host such an array of events, from corporate business meetings, conferences and company picnics to weddings, galas, fundraisers and family reunions. All of our featured spaces offer groups, small and large, a chance to gather in our parks, giving them the opportunity to be closer to nature. Sometimes it opens up a new landscape to visitors they have just discovered, often becoming their new favorite outdoor retreat.
What are you most proud of in your work?
I’m most proud of the feedback we receive from our clients through our reviews, letters and chance run-ins with past families that have shared an event at one of our parks. It’s that incredible, positive response they give about how well their event was executed, about the top-notch service our coordinators and concierges have provided, and that hands-on approach we use to ensure their event is a success.
What inspires you to come to work everyday?
I’m inspired to come to work every day because I believe in the mission of why The Parklands was created. On a daily basis, I see the positive impact we make on thousands of people’s lives, and I’m so hopeful for what it will provide in the years ahead. The events department is just one part in the larger picture that helps create those lasting memories. I’m so proud of the experiences we give our park visitors. I couldn’t be more pleased to do my part!
Which trail would you recommend to visitors and why?
I’d recommend an original favorite—Big Beech Trail at Pope Lick Park. It takes you along a trail with 200-year-old trees and is just 1.5 miles long. It’s also close to The Strand, my favorite section of the park to take a leisurely hike or pedal.
What is your favorite "thing to do" at The Parklands and why?
I would say my favorite “thing to do” would be hiking on our trails. As an avid hiker relocated from the mountains of Colorado, finding a variety of trail surfaces, lengths and difficulty is something I actively enjoy here every week. Our trails are well marked, and our signage informs you of the challenges you should expect.
In your opinion, what makes The Parklands worthy of support?
I believe The Parklands is worthy of your support because as the city of Louisville grows, just like the Olmstead Parks before us, our insightful planning has been put in place securing these precious open spaces. The fact that we do not receive state or government funding for our yearly operations makes it that much more crucial for all of us to pitch in and help sustain it.
How would you say "Thank You" to someone who donates to The Parklands, or is thinking about donating?
I am very impressed by the generosity a person has to become a steward of The Parklands. To give their resources and/or time, to show their commitment to the community is noteworthy. When you donate and become a member, you are making that connection, taking pride and ownership. I’m sending an enormous THANK YOU for supporting this Louisville treasure!
Toni Woodard came to work at The Parklands in February 2014 after relocating from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She's worked in a variety of capacities, including park attendant, event concierge and event coordinator. In the spring of 2017, Woodard was promoted to Director of Facilities and Hospitality. Years of customer relations experience and her ability to connect well with others make her a perfect leader for The Parklands Facilities team. She spent the bulk of her career as a small business owner in hospitality services, retail and eco lodging. Woodard sat on local community committees in Colorado & headed up parks preservation, tourism and recycling efforts. She is an enthusiastic outdoorswoman, traveler & motorcyclist. Contact me about: hosting an event in The Parklands at any of our event facilities.
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