Blog Archives

Posts from October 2019

Bob Becker, City Park CEO, Announces His Retirement in 2020

New Orleans City Park Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Robert W. Becker, 72, announced today he will be stepping down from his position upon the selection of his successor, which is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of next year.

Becker, who has served as the head of the Park for nearly two decades, recommended the planning process and the selection of the nationally recognized firm of Ralph Anderson & Associates. The firm will develop a succession plan and screen potential candidates for the board’s consideration.

Becker’s tenure began in 2001. He is credited with dramatically improving the Park’s financial condition, securing its first public financing to address operating expenses from both the City and the State, and successfully leading the effort to develop a new vision for the Park’s future. Under his leadership, the City Park Improvement Association adopted City Park 2018, a comprehensive master plan for the Park that detailed the land use strategy and the projects and programs needed for implementation. By the end of 2018, over $200 million in capital improvements were invested in the Park’s 1,300 acres.

Board Chair, Lawrence Katz, said that replacing Becker will be a huge task. “Bob has given his heart and soul to City Park and will be dearly missed by all of us who understand his contribution over the years. He has led us through our darkest and now our brightest times. He deserves all of the accolades that will be coming his way.” Becker has agreed to stay on in his position during the search and for a transition period. Prior to his work in City Park, Becker was the Senior Vice President for the Audubon Nature Institute and was the Executive Director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Certified City Planners and an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Orleans. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the 2010 National Planning Award honoring City Park’s recovery effort, being selected as the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus from the University of New Orleans College of Liberal Arts, and being honored as a “Hero of Recovery” by New Orleans Magazine on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The entire Park wishes to extend our gratitude to Bob. He's been our leader and brought vision to City Park. He is a true champion to all those who love City Park. We'll miss you and congratulations on this next step, Bob!

Becker has a B.A. in History from the University of Buffalo, an M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans in Urban Studies.

New Kitchen in the Garden

The New Orleans Botanical Garden unveils its Kitchen in the Garden during the 22nd annual Fall Garden Festival Oct. 5-6. The outdoor kitchen space will be used for classes, culinary demonstrations and special events highlighting garden produce and featuring visiting chefs and instructors.

“The main reason we built this was to increase our educational programming,” Botanical Garden director Paul Soniat says. “There’s so much emphasis now on farm-to-table and healthy eating that we think it’s a natural fit.”

Soniat hopes to design programs in partnership with other organizations, including City Park neighbor Grow Dat Youth Farm and Delgado Community College’s culinary program.

“Our main focus is to provide a space where people can interact with plants,” Soniat says. “We do a lot of educational programming now – talking about trees, shrubs and herbs – but this gives us demonstration ability to bring in chefs.”

On Wednesdays during October, the New Orleans unit of the Herb Society of America will present free cooking demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A chefs’ dinner series features Michael Gulotta of MoPho and Maypop on Oct. 8 and Joaquin Rodas of Bacchanal and Alex Harrell of Elysian Bar Oct. 22. Tickets for each dinner are $95.

Culinary workshops will include a class in preparing whole lamb and flatbread by Black Pearl Kitchen Oct. 15 and appearances by chef Wilfredo Avelar of Mawi Tortillas Oct. 24 and chef Ericka Lasairr of Diva Dawg/Cut Up Catering Oct. 29. Workshop tickets are $40.

The Kitchen in the Garden features concrete flooring, industrial-grade appliances, a wood-burning stove, pizza oven, protective covering and seating for 50 guests.

More information about Kitchen in the Garden is available on its website.

This is a repost from this link.