Lawrence’s new parks and rec director has first day on the job

Share this post or save for later

Luis Ruiz, new director of parks, recreation, arts and culture for the City of Lawrence, said he’s been “treated royally” thus far, and he’s thrilled and excited to be here.

Ruiz met the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board Monday after his first eight hours on the job. He joins the city from Mesa, Arizona, where he was deputy director of community facilities. He oversaw the golf course, cemetery, and special events for the city convention center and amphitheater. Prior to that, he worked for the city of Phoenix.

Ruiz said he’s a first-generation Cuban American, and he was born and raised in Miami. He also received his Bachelor of Music in Music Business and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami.

He’s the first in his family to graduate college and graduate with a master’s degree, he said.

“Others have followed after, but I’m proud to have been able to accomplish that,” he said.

He said he drove in to Lawrence for his interview in February, and it was a gorgeous, sunny day, which drew some laughter from board members. He said he spent “two great days” here for an executive retreat that the city manager put on, so he was able to get a good idea of what some of the big issues are and meet the executive team for the city.

He said he considers himself more of a facilitator and leader than a doer. He knows people are hired to do their jobs and he doesn’t want to step on people’s toes, but he wants to be a resource for staff members at every level, he said.

“I’m here to help the great people that the city has hired to oversee parks and rec and arts and culture in any way that I can,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz moved to Kansas City last week, so he’ll be commuting to Lawrence.

Ruiz is taking the position following the retirement of Derek Rogers. Lindsay Hart, assistant director of recreation, served as interim director from December on.

If our local journalism matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Latest Lawrence news:


Previous Article

Lawrence school district will sell East Heights property for affordable housing project

Next Article

Police investigating woman’s death in eastern Lawrence