The Springfield-Greene County Park Board, in cooperation with the Springfield Sister Cities Association, has named Lisa Bakerink as the nonprofit organization’s executive director.
Bakerink previously served as the first executive director of Friends of the Garden, 2015 to present. Both organizations are long-term Park Board partners which support the Park Board’s mission as well as provide extensive programs and volunteers for the Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park. The two organizations also share staff and office space at the Springfield-Greene County Botanical Center.
With Friends of the Garden, Bakerink worked cooperatively with parks staff and 24 partner organizations to support the 112-acre Springfield Botanical Garden, including development, volunteer coordination, strategic planning, administration and communication. Prior to that, Bakerink earned extensive leadership experience in Springfield and in her home state of Iowa in the hotel industry, human resources, bookkeeping and nonprofit management. She has been involved in the Master Gardeners of Greene County, the Roston Native Butterfly House, Court Appointed Special Advocates (Des Moines) and the Iowa Child Advocacy Board.
“The interest we had in this position was overwhelming and really speaks to our community’s positive response to the Sister Cities program,” said Bob Belote, Director of Parks with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. “We feel very fortunate to have someone of Lisa’s caliber and background taking on this role, and, moving forward, we know that she will do many great things for both Sister Cities and the Park Board.”
Bakerink fills a vacancy left by Springfield Sister Cities Association executive director Cindy Jobe, who retired Aug. 1 after 34 years with the Park Board, including 17 years as the Springfield’s official liaison to sister city, Isesaki, Japan (a key partner in the development of Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden), followed by 12 years as executive director of the organization. The executive director is a Park Board-funded position.
The Springfield Sister Cities Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people of the City of Springfield and people of similar cities in foreign nations acquire a consciousness of each other and to understand one another as individuals, as members of their community, and as part of our global community.
The annual Japanese Fall Festival, one of the Springfield Sister Cities Association’s signature events, returns to Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden Sept. 6-8. The cultural festival features music, dancing, kendama, martial arts, vendors, food, kimonos, cosplay performances, crafts and more, highlighting Springfield’s 33-year relationship with its sister city, Isesaki, Japan.
Coming up Oct. 11 is the Taste of Tlaquepaque, an annual event celebrating Springfield’s 17-year sister city relationship with Tlaquepaque, Mexico, featuring authentic cuisine, beverages and musical performances.
For more information, visit Springfield Sister Cities Association, or contact Lisa Bakerink, Executive Director with the Springfield Sister Cities Association, at 417-864-1341; or Jenny Fillmer Edwards,Public Information Administrator for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, at 417-874-2943 (office) or 417-224-5510 (mobile).