County of Marin - News Releases - Interim Parks Director

For Immediate Release
October 28, 2015

Statewide Parks Expert to be Interim Parks Director

Marin resident Pat O’Brien previously led East Bay Regional Parks District prior to retirement

San Rafael, CA – Pat O’Brien, who led the East Bay Regional Park District for 22 years before retiring in 2010, has agreed to lead the Marin County Parks department for up to seven months. The County is extending its national search for a permanent replacement for the retired Linda Dahl. 

Pat O'Brien, new interim director of Marin County ParksPat O'Brien, Interim Director, Marin County Parks

Marin County Administrator Matthew Hymel said O’Brien’s contract will be brought before the Marin County Supervisors on November 10 for a contract not to exceed $97,500. If approved, O’Brien plans to start work shortly thereafter.

O’Brien, who lives in Terra Linda, was General Manager for East Bay Parks and received national recognition for his leadership. He was named “Legend in the Field” by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2009 and helped pass a $500 million bond measure to fund new open space and parkland development that expanded the district by 33 percent. East Bay Parks, with 700 employees, became the largest regional park system in the country with more than 110,000 acres, 65 parks and more than 1,000 miles of trails.

”We’re fortunate given his familiarity with Marin to be able to utilize his expertise in leading the department on an interim basis – and helping us conduct a national recruitment for this important leadership position,” County Administrator Matthew Hymel said.

O’Brien has served as chair of the Political Action Committee for the California Parks and Recreation Society and executive director of the California Outdoors Recreation Partnership. Locally, O’Brien has served on the Marin County Parks Community Open Space Tax Oversight Committee and joined the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission in August 2015. If his interim director appointment is approved by the Board of Supervisors, O’Brien would take a leave of absence from the commission.

“Pat is a legend in the world of public park and open space professionals,” said Acting Parks Director Ron Miska. “He’ll bring a wealth of experience and wisdom to the job. It’s going to be an honor to work with him.”

Miska, a 27-year veteran of Marin County Parks, announced earlier this year that he is retiring effective December 31. Previously he served as planning acquisition manager, Deputy Director and Assistant Director.

Marin County Parks is comprised of 34 open space preserves, four regional parks and more than 30 other parks facilities. The County has acquired hundreds of undeveloped parcels from willing sellers in recent years as Parks has grown to more than 20,000 acres. Parks has 76 full-time employees plus as many as 46 seasonal and extra-hire workers each year.

O’Brien has lived in Marin County for 24 years and has served as a governmental affairs consultant since his retirement from East Bay Parks. He has a master’s degree in philosophy from San Francisco State University.

“I found that my background in philosophy helped me understand complex issues,” O’Brien said. “My work experience has been grounded in all aspects of parks, and I find the interaction of people, issues and the protection of natural resources and providing for opportunities for the public to have access to outdoor recreation a most rewarding aspect to my career.”

O’Brien said his goals are to mentor staff, implementing the department’s top priorities, assure open communication with the public, and develop relationships with neighboring municipalities and agencies. He said he wants to insure that plans for Measure A projects, vegetation management, and road/trail management continue to deliver benefits to local residents.

“A major priority will also be to assist in the recruitment of a new director,” he said.


Matthew Hymel
County Administrator
County Administrator's Office

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite #325
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6358
Email: Matthew Hymel
County Administrator website