Sean DePalma, city of Stonecrest’s first parks director, says farewell to community

Sean Depalma
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Sean DePalma has departed his position as the City of Stonecrest’s Director of Parks and Recreation to serve as Quality of Life manager in Panama City, Florida, overseeing parks and recreation.

DePalma e-mailed the following letter to On Common Ground News in a farewell to the Stonecrest vommunity:

Currently, our nation is navigating a new pandemic with COVID-19 while fighting with the time-worn plague of racial discrimination. As a public servant for over twenty years, I know that a successful parks and recreation department directly improves the quality of life for the entire community. Deciding to serve within Stonecrest was rooted in in my desire to bring equity to a community that was disenfranchised by the county for decades.

During my tenure, I had the opportunity to build a parks and recreation department comprised of professionals with 100% higher education, 58% of them holding a master’s degree, a 1.2/1 ratio for male to female and over 86% African-American. Stonecrest’s department truly reflects the community that we serve. This extraordinary group of professionals became the family that facilitated the city’s plan as both functional and impactful.

As I step out of the director’s position, I implore the community not only to rally behind these remarkable professionals but to get to know each one of them individually. Mr. Brandon Riley is a true son of DeKalb County, born and raised in the county. Brandon has a pure heart and sincere love for the community. Our team’s resident synergy agent, Ms. Tameika Porter, builds the bridges for community engagement to access our department. Tameika is one of the most professional and intelligent individuals I have ever served with. The team’s guru of nature and horticulture is Mr. Sheldon Fleming. Mr. Fleming always places Stonecrest over himself and has the ability to give the greatest advice at the most precise moment. Our team’s pacesetter who also retains a wealth of knowledge is Ms. Tanya Diaz. We all affectionately refer to her as “Ms. Tanya.” Ms. Tanya will deliver “hard truths” when needed as effectively as she will convey a kind word when the situation calls for it. Ms. Hadajo Ferguson is our intern-turned team member who loves the learn. Ms. Ferguson retains a passion to ensure food accessibility and wellness equality for our community. Hadajo will one day soon break the “glass ceiling” for women of color that will surprise the critics but not us! Next up is our team’s “Spirit Captain,” Ms. Brionna Johnigan. Bri is an evolving powerful young professional who delivers a high level of positive energy while ensuring triumph to everything she is involved with. Every team has that calm individual that provides a different prospective, Mr. John Nettles is our guy! John brings humor to our team while being extremely detail focused. Last but not least, Mr. Deon’ta Hampton. Deon’ta is our “Mr. Dependable” who retains an internal moto that “Failure is not an option.”

In Stonecrest, I was blessed to be an architect of a new department, craft a powerful vision, and build essential relationships. To create an impactful department from conception is not an individual task but  a team mission. I am grateful to all the remarkable people that showed me love, supported my team and the opportunity that God graced me within Stonecrest. Thank you to everyone!

On Common Ground News

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