A lifelong Shawnee man who is also the executive director for Visit Shawnee was recently appointed by the Board of Johnson County Commissioners to serve as the second district representative to the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners.
“I have worked closely with JCPRD for several years in my role as Executive Director of Visit Shawnee, so I am very familiar with many of its facilities and programs and just felt that I could make a positive contribution as a member of the board,” new Board Member Kevin Fern said. “I have always been interested in being of service to my community and saw this as a great opportunity to give back in a constructive way.”
Fern steps into a seat previously held by Jeff Meyers, who was on the park and recreation board from March of 2018 until his recent election to the BOCC. On Feb. 4, Meyers appointed Fern to his previous seat, but Meyers will also continue on the park and recreation board, now as the BOCC board member. Fern has also been assigned to serve on the Theatre in the Park Advisory Council for 2021.
Fern has served as Executive Director of Visit Shawnee since May of 2008, and attended Johnson County Community College and the University of Kansas. His professional memberships and affiliations include: Kansas Council on Travel & Tourism, Travel Industry Association of Kansas, TourKansas, SportsKS, Visit KC, Kansas City Regional Destination Alliance, Greater Kansas City Hotel & Lodging Association, Kansas City Area Historic Trails Association, Shawnee Sister Cities Committee, and Friends of Shawnee Town 1929.
“I would hope that my decades of working in the Travel and Tourism industry will provide a unique perspective in a variety of areas,” he said. “How visitors utilize what we offer and how we can use our significant investment in parks and recreation to drive economic impact in our communities, is an expertise that I would hope to provide.”
Asked what he sees as JCPRD’s greatest strength, he said “a solid foundation to build upon, and great leadership through the years has created the award-winning organization that we see today. That always starts with great employees doing the daily work with dedication and a sense of service to the public. I know about that firsthand as I have seen it many times in my dealings with the organization.”
Subsequently, he identified the organization’s greatest challenge for the future as “maintaining the great standards and quality of product we have, while balancing the demands to acquire and develop additional parkland as well as the desire for additional programing.”
His own goal for his time of the board is to “always be a good listener and try and make decisions with an appreciation for the demands of today, however, always with an eye on the future and with a vision of what a decision may mean say five, ten, or 20 years down the road. I am proud to know a little about our history in Johnson County and am grateful for the thoughtfulness and foresight of those who have served on this commission through the years. I am just humbled to follow in those footsteps and hope to carry on that commitment to excellence that is the tradition of this board.”