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Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute

Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute

Mission Statement

The Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute aims to cultivate emerging leaders within the field of Recreation and Parks, empowering them to ascend to leadership roles within their respective organizations and contribute to the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association. Monthly meetings are mandatory, strategically held at various locations across the state to expose participants to diverse facilities and geographic intricacies unique to Maryland. Each session will feature dynamic guest speakers, fostering informed discussions on pertinent leadership topics. Participants will engage in assigned projects and reading materials between sessions to further enrich their learning experience.

About the Program

The Institute will meet monthly and attendance is required. The locations will allow participants to travel around the state to experience firsthand the different facilities and geographic challenges in Maryland. Dynamic, informed guest speakers will be featured each month with facilitated discussion related to topics relevant to leadership. Projects and reading materials will be assigned between Institute dates.

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Seeking professionals who are identified as “up-and-coming leaders” by their supervisor, department, or division head. A letter of recommendation from the immediate supervisor who is making the recommendation to attend is
required. Participants must be MRPA members in good standing.

Dates for the Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institutes are as follows (please note, that some dates may be subject to change).

  • September 12, 2024
  • October 10-11, 2024 (overnight retreat)
  • November 14, 2024
  • December 19, 2024
  • January 16, 2025
  • February 20, 2025
  • March 6, 2025 (presentation practice)
  • March 21, 2025 (Final Presentation)
  • April 1 – 3, 2025 (Graduation at MRPA Conference)

Fee: $600.00 per registrant

The fee includes facility, speaker fees, materials, lodging, and meals.  You will invoiced upon acceptance into the program.

Graduates of the Institute will present and receive acknowledgment at the MRPA Annual Conference (conference
registration and accommodations are not included in the Institute fee).

Application Deadline is June 17, 2024

Meet the Committee

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Andrea Rogers

Andrea Rogers is a proud graduate of the Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute, Class of 2023. With over 5+ years of experience working with the City of Rockville, she has swiftly distinguished herself as an up-and-comer within MRPA. She has served on multiple committees such as Leadership Institute, Recreation University, Conference, Senior Summit, and as well as participated in numerous fundraisers and events. Andrea will continue to serve on the LI committee team as this year's Co-Chair for class of 2025.


Taylor Morton

Taylor is returning this year as a Co-chair on the Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute Committee. As a 2023 graduate of Leadership Institute, Taylor is grateful to have formed a bond with 23 recreational professionals from all over the State.  Taylor currently works as a Sports Assistant Coordinator for Calvert County Parks & Recreation.


Jason DeMarchi

Jason DeMarchi has over 20 years of work experience serving his community and in the recreation and parks industry. In 2023 he
successfully completed the MRPA Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute and continues to be an active participant of various MRPA committees including; the Annual Conference Committee, Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute Committee, and the 2SLGBTQIA+ Summit Committee.

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David McNair

David A. McNair is the District Area Manager for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks and the Newly Elected Board Secretary for MRPA. He knows the importance of people and community. In addition, he understands the importance of effective leadership and investing in people. Mr. McNair graduated from MRPA Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute Class of 2023 and served on the first-timers committee for the 2024 MRPA conference.

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Alison Woodfield

After working in Maryland DNR's Maryland Park Service since the late 90's, Alison transitioned to Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks in 2109 as a Park Superintendent. Most recently, she has moved into the Department's Headquarters to assist with the planning, development and rehabilitation of the County's Park System. She has enjoyed her long career in Rec & Parks and hopes to inspire future leaders seeking a successful and rewarding career track. Alison is a 2024 LI graduate and is thrilled to serve on the committee this coming year.


April Gibson Thomas

April is a 2024 graduate of the Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute. Through engaging workshops, mentorship opportunities, and networking, the institute has provided April with invaluable leadership skills, strategic thinking abilities, and networking opportunities that have propelled April forward in her leadership role within Parks & Recreation field. Currently, she holds the role as the Permits & Information Supervisor for M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County.



Stephanie Ware-Tuck

Stephanie Ware-Tuck is a seasoned professional with a rich blend of expertise in communications, marketing, and historic venue management. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from Old Dominion University and a Master's in Business & Leadership from Liberty University. Her dedication to continuous learning is evident through her completion of several NRPA schools and the MRPA Leadership Institute in 2023. Currently, Stephanie is a Facility Director with M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County.

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Earldine Williams

Earldine Williams is a dedicated professional who has made a significant impact in the field of community engagement and recreation. Currently, Earldine serves as an Operation Specialist 1 for Baltimore City Recreation and Parks.  She continues to show her dedication for the industry through community development, education, and learning.  She has attended NRPA's Supervisors' Management School, participated on the 2024 MRPA Conference Committee, and is currently on the MRPA Member Engagement & Outreach Committee. Earldine is a proud 2023 graduate of the Rich Stevenson Leadership Institute and will continue her involvement with LI as a committee member for this coming year.

Dresmond McLaurin

Dresmond McLaurin

Dresmond McLaurin

Manager 1

M-NCPPC, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County

MRPA Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute Class of 2024


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What do past graduates have to say?

"The Leadership Institute helped to reignite my passion for learning and helped me realize that I am capable of so much more. Rather than being complacent I need to push me outside of my comfort zone to grow. The leadership Institute can help you do the same."

Andrea Roger (Class of 2023)

"As someone who has been managing staff for over 15 years, my interest in participating in MRPA’s Ritch Stevenson Leadership Institute was simply to network and learn more about MRPA. I took away so much more from the program than I ever anticipated. Not only has the program taught me to be a better manager, communicator, and coworker, but it has ignited a desire to pursue new leadership roles and positions and has invigorated my passion for the field of parks and recreation. Whether you are new to being a manager or a seasoned supervisor this program has so much to offer participants, not only professionally but also personally. You simply leave a better person."

Jason DeMarchi (Class of 2023)

"I wholeheartedly encourage others to join this program, as it offers a supportive community of like-minded professionals and fosters personal and professional growth. My time in the program has been both rewarding and enriching, particularly through the connections I've made with fellow recreation professionals, making it an experience I highly recommend to anyone looking to excel in their leadership journey."

April Gibson Thomas (Class of 2024)

"I am an extroverted person but public speaking makes me want to crawl back into my shell. After taking this class, I don't fear public speaking I actually enjoy talking to my audience. Overall, this leadership class will help with your career advancement, boost your confidence and expand your professional network."

Taylor Morton, CYSA (Class of 2023)

"Learning never stops and Leadership Institute provided me with invaluable opportunities for personal growth, self-discovery, and honing of my leadership skills. I left Leadership Institute feeling connected to a group that was determined to be great for our communities." 

Stephanie Ware-Tuck , M.A (Class of 2023)

The opportunity to learn and share experiences with others across parks and recreation agencies is paramount. Leadership institute challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and grow with public speaking. I am excited to apply all that was learned in class toward my career and future goals.

Dresmond McLaurin (Class of 2024)

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