By David Markham
A 15-year veteran of JCPRD department recently became the agency’s new 50 Plus Department manager.
Kari Baesel started in her new role on Feb. 20. She was promoted to a position left vacant when former 50 Plus Manager Michelle Alexander became assistant superintendent of recreation in early January.
“I’m so proud of what we do for our community and the impact our programs and services make every day,” Baesel said. “In this new role, I’m able to continue the success of the department and help staff reach their full potential by giving them confidence to do their jobs and help them through challenges. This department has 12 dedicated members who try their best every day to offer new programs and events to keep our participants socializing, reaching fitness goals, learning new skills, and continuing to live their best lives.”
Baesel added that she wants to keep the older adult population at the forefront of her department’s programming by continuing to offer a variety of programs and services.
“As a department, we will do this by researching trends, receiving feedback from our participants, and developing new partnerships within the community,” she said.
Baesel first came to JCPRD as a recreation specialist in April 2008.
“I have been in the same position with JCPRD for 15 years,” she said. “Throughout the years, my job duties have changed, which allowed me to grow professionally and personally with each new experience. When I started this job, I never dreamed I would accomplish so many different goals and have a variety of unique experiences. Overall, the thing that means the most to me is the relationships I have developed with our participants and staff throughout the years.”
One of her proudest moments, Baesel said, was when she was asked to become the facility supervisor for the Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse, which opened in mid-2019.
“I got the opportunity to be a part of this facility from the start, which allowed me to learn new skills, plan what would be happening in the building, and determine how operations would work,” she said. “During the 3½ years it has been open, there have been many ups and downs, but I would have never dreamed of the success it has become.”
A native of Wichita, Baesel worked for about four years as Reef Club Kids supervisor and recreation manager at the Ocean Reek Club in Key Largo, Fla., before coming to JCPRD. Earlier, she worked for about a year as a recreation leader for Shawnee County Park and Recreation in Topeka. She holds a bachelor’s of science degree in recreation from Emporia State University.
“Each day I strive to make a difference in what I’m doing,” Baesel said. “I’m ready to lead the 50 Plus Department in this always-changing world. I will be a strong leader that staff can rely on to always put my best foot forward, be a strong representative for them and our population, and be the biggest cheerleader that I can be. I truly believe that everyone needs to enjoy what they do and have fun at work.”