Bradford took over as director in February 2006. The department has more than 700 employees, a budget of $100 million and is responsible for more than 35,000 acres of parkland with 420 parks.
Bradford, who started her career as a seasonal park ranger and ranger historian for the National Park Service, oversaw the re-establishment of the Department of Parks as separate from the Planning Department. Both are in the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, the Montgomery and Prince George’s County organization that includes parks and planning departments in both counties.
The Parks Foundation was first established in 1992 but re-constituted in early 2009 with a new volunteer Board of Trustees. The Foundation quickly became a necessary fundraising arm for the Department, which suffered large budget cuts during the Great Recession.
In 2010, the department’s budget was cut back $10 million to about $69 million and Parks implemented a 10-day furlough, closed 11 activity buildings, got rid of its seasonal workforce and scaled back landscaping.
“Mary has led Montgomery Parks through good and bad times with grace and professionalism. She strengthened the department in many ways — increasing organizational responsiveness, rebuilding professionalism and community trust,” Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier said in a statement. “Montgomery Parks, its staff and the residents of this county have all greatly benefited from Mary’s work and dedication to the department. While she will certainly be missed, we wish her the best in her retirement.”
Since 2006, Parks added or developed the Cabin John Dog Park, Carroll Knolls Local Park, Josiah Henson Cultural Park, Matthew Henson Trail, Olney Manor Skate Park, Serpentine Barrens Conservation Area and Woodstock Equestrian Park.
Bradford will retire in June. Parks will name an acting director while a search for Bradford’s replacement takes place.