Nancy Heltman

My career has been split between the private sector and government. Most of my private sector career I worked for a family business and my father was the leader. Not a very good one either. Don’t get me wrong I loved him but he made no secret of the fact that his philosophy was “motivation by agitation.” He was kind of a bully. Then I ran my own business for a while with no employees to supervise. Thirteen years ago I came to the public sector and have been fortunate to have the same boss for that tenure. Joe Elton, the Director of Virginia State Parks is a great leader. Our Parks have always been thinly resourced but when Joe took over as Director we were at a real crisis. Joe led “the most frugally state park system in the nation” to the National Gold Medal. This week was our site managers meeting and once again we are facing tough budget times as a result of the state budget crisis. Once again, Joe reminded us all of the wonderful work we do in spite of or perhaps because of these challenges. We all left invigorated and ready to continue being creative so we can excel.

DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton, center, holds the coveted Sports Foundation Inc. gold medal award. He is flanked by National Park Service Director Fran Mainella and Richard Zavala, director of the Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Department, who chaired the judging panel. The award was given at the National Recreation and Park Association’s annual convention Oct. 3, 2001, in Denver, Colo.