Believing in the transformative power of a strong park and rec system, Deb is a devoted advocate of parks for all. After enjoying a lengthy and rewarding career in park and recreation, she remains involved with the National Recreation and Park Association. Currently, Deb lives in Bend with her husband and German Wirehaired Pointer and enjoys time spent with her daughter and grandchildren who recently relocated to Bend. When not volunteering, Deb loves to read and cook and is attempting to grow a solid tomato crop in Central Oregon – so far, with no success.
- Darris Hurst
You have a long history of public service. Was this a family value?
Our family on both sides believes in working for the common good of society. Sometimes that means making a person's day a tiny bit better, and sometimes it means being a steward of public policy that contributes to the quality of life.
Has being a parent shaped your thoughts about the importance of parks to families?
Indeed it has. I began my career in park and recreation before I had children, but having a family intensified my belief that parks are vital to the lives of happy, healthy children and families. A forested park was important to me as a child; it led me to an appreciation of nature as a safe place and provided hours of play when there was little else to do. As a family, we always had the good fortune to live within walking distance of a park, which taught my children that time outside could be the best part of a day. A walk to a small neighborhood park was one of my first solo adventures with my new grandson. I believe everybody deserves a park.
What did you learn from your parents about parenting?
There are few situations so serious or concerning that a good laugh could not change the energy and make things better. Both of my kids are hilarious, so I feel like I passed this on to them successfully. The second thing I learned is if you are overwhelmed and frustrated, clean your bedroom or cook something for somebody. There is a real sense of accomplishment in those two things.
What do you hope your children have learned from you?
To stand for something and make a meaningful contribution. A Saturday morning saying in our household was, "I don't care what you do with your day but get out there and do something." This was usually said to 80s rock music or 'Phantom of the Opera', which my kids tease us about to this day. Truthfully, I wish the same thing for my children and grandchildren that most folks do: to raise them to be happy, healthy, contributing adults. So far, so good.
What superhero power do you wish you had as a parent?
Super Speed. When my children were growing up, there simply were not enough hours in the day. I worked full time, so we ran from one thing to another; being faster would have been a great help. Now I wish I had super speed so I could keep up with my grandchildren!
How are kids today different than when you were a kid?
I mentioned spending hours outside in the woods without the supervision of an adult. That would never happen today. We didn't have an incredible array of choices for entertainment, so playing outside and visiting neighbors is what I recall about my childhood. There is tremendous pressure to achieve athletically and scholastically on today's kids that wasn't as prevalent years ago.
Do you have a role model?
I have lots of them – all the working mothers with whom I've had the pleasure of spending time. Some of the most interesting and accomplished people I know are moms who have full-time careers while raising a family. So to every mom who showed up to work with a baby sock stuck inside the sleeve of her blazer or opened a briefcase to find a baggy of goldfish crackers and a used Kleenex, you have my utmost respect and undying gratitude for illuminating my path.