To be inducted by your peers into a Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors bestowed upon an individual. Retired Gwinnett County Director Sharon Plunkett was recognized in this manner at the recent GRPA Conference in Columbus. Upon graduation from Georgia Southern in 1974, Sharon worked in College Park and Clayton County until 1988 when she was named Director in Gwinnett County. She finished out her storied 35 year parks and recreation career in that position with her retirement in 2009. One of the greatest influences this inductee made on recreation in the state of Georgia would have to be her 20 plus years of leadership, forethought, and management of Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation. There is no question as to the excitement and challenges that this young professional faced as Director. The Parks and Recreation Division was experiencing extensive growth of parks, facilities, recreation programs, staff and budget. But she never lost focus, looked back, or slowed down and because of her dedication, passion, leadership, and drive she was able to build a county parks and recreation program, in a very short time, to the level of excellence that was recognized around the state and on a national level. Her legacy in Gwinnett County is a strong, community/volunteer based youth athletic association, dog parks, equestrian trails, walking trails, and an award-winning park system will live on for years to come.
GRPA Past-President Dr. Steve Dempsey conducted Sharon’s induction ceremony and added the following comments, “This inductee was very active in the GRPA, serving for a number of years on the Board of Trustees as an executive officer, District 7 Commissioner, and chairing various state and district committees. While serving as GRPA President, I was fortunate enough to have several people assist me with my presidential goals and relied on a few close people for guidance, feedback, and assistance to help move the GRPA agenda forward in the state. Sharon Plunkett was one of those few people who I would go to for counsel. Each issue I approached her with, she always would have GRPA membership at the forefront of her mind – is GRPA doing this for the right reasons? Will this initiative/issue assist/advance the membership? Sharon always reminded me that strong members build a strong association and a strong association builds a strong profession. Sharon was always an advocate for our members.”
In closing, Dr. Dempsey concluded with the following concerning Plunkett, “One could go on and on about Sharon, the role model she was for all women in the profession, the pioneer she was for the programming in Gwinnett County, the excellence she would draw out of people – encouraging them to be at their best every day, but I will stop here. If one were to look back at Sharon’s career, you would find that everything Sharon did and accomplished embodied the foundation of professionalism, service, and dedication to the profession, citizens, and staff she held so dear to her heart. I know of no other person with more passion and love of her profession than Sharon. She has truly impacted many lives and been a part of many initiatives that helped to move the profession forward in Georgia.”
Congratulations to Sharon on taking her seat next to the other past distinguished leaders in the recreation profession in Georgia!