Introducing Joy Casnovsky: APF’s New Chief Mission Officer!

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Austin Parks Foundation is thrilled to introduce our new Chief Mission Officer, Joy Casnovsky! She is a native Austinite that has always been drawn to the public service and non-profit sectors. Read below to learn more about her work experience and what drew her to APF.

In her most recent role, Joy served as Deputy Director of Sustainable Food Center (SFC), an organization that supports local farmers and provides access to healthy food to Austinites. APF and SFC share the goal of helping our community live healthy, active lives. We’ve worked together to provide community gardens in local parks, and recently APF took over stewardship of the community garden program, previously managed by SFC.

She was also part of the Peace Corps in Bolivia and has worked as a Park Ranger at Crater Lake and Sequoia National Parks. We asked Joy a few questions to get to know her better, check out her responses below:

What stood out to you about Austin Parks Foundation as an organization?

"I’ve been following the work of APF for some time. What I’ve grown to admire is how APF has wrapped together what I consider three essential pillars: community engagement, park improvement/construction, and advocacy. Each of these is important in its own right, but when complemented by one another, each is made stronger.

For example, APF works with communities to build or improve green spaces as they desire, which makes the spaces better supported given communities are directly involved; there is ownership and buy-in from the get-go. And at the end of everyone’s hard work, there is an actual physical park, trail, or playscape to be used and loved! From a longer-term perspective, advocacy is so important because it shapes how city policymakers invest resources into parks.

This is critical as the funds used to build new green spaces and improve existing ones can take years to come to fruition. You know what they say–the best shade tree is one that was planted a decade ago. The same applies to advocacy. It can seem like a long road, but it has a huge, future impact."

What makes providing access to great parks and trails for every Austinite important to you?

"The outdoors have always been my happy place. During the pandemic, this became even more true. So many of us were looking to green spaces to recharge from pandemic-induced stress or meet up with friends and loved ones in a safe manner. Additionally, 95% of land in Texas is privately owned, which means that public lands are that much more important.

I truly believe that all humans need a connection with green space, and that can look different–from a skatepark to a soccer field, to a forested trail. I think that is something that makes APF special– it supports green spaces of all types and sizes for all Austinites."

What are you most excited about with your new role with APF?

"I’m a learner at heart, so I’m excited to jump in and soak up everything I can. Then, I’m looking forward to understanding what I can contribute to APF so that our parks and green spaces thrive, especially given the city’s explosive growth and lack of affordable housing."

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