Carol J. Potter

Carol J. Potter retired from the Department of Defense (DoD) in May 2015 after more than 33 years of distinguished service with DoD and the U.S. Army. Since retiring she continues to strengthen the connection and partnership between military recreation and local, state, and federal parks and recreation. She is eager to begin researching the positive connection between post-traumatic stress disorder, resilience, and recreation.

Potter was the Assistant Director of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Policy within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. Carol provided executive-level oversight for recreation programs for 8.9 million military and family members, civilian employees, and retirees in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force at 312 installations worldwide with over 6,600 activity programs. She was responsible for developing policies, strategic planning, program analysis, evaluation, and funding oversight for the $4.6 billion program. Among her accomplishments, Carol managed a research project involving 37 studies to measure how military member and family resilience increases when participating in a wide variety of recreation activities. She conducted three worldwide MWR customer satisfaction surveys and created the initiative for high-adventure recreation for returning deployed military members, adopted by all military Services. Carol sponsored a program providing free Internet access, computers, web cameras, and voice-over-Internet-protocol service in Afghanistan and the Middle East allowing military members and families to communicate during deployments. She provided inclusion training for over 700 recreation professionals, developed an online training course, and promoted recreation inclusion for people of all abilities on military installations. Carol collaborated with the Department of Interior and other federal agencies to provide military members and families free annual access to national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests using the America the Beautiful Pass. With the Department of State, she developed and coordinated policy for recreation support to military missions in foreign countries. Carol partnered with the U.S. Olympic Committee Military Paralympic Program to provide training for wounded warriors on military installations. She was a member of the Recreation Inclusion Task Force that developed the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) policy statement to provide access for severely injured military members to public park and recreation programs, adopted by the NRPA Board of Trustees in 2008.

Carol’s awards include the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award; the Order of the White Plume, the Army's highest medal for achievement in MWR; Achievement Medal for Civilian Service; and two Commander’s Awards for Civilian Service.

Carol has a degree from the University of Wyoming and is a graduate of the Army Management Staff College. She is the author of numerous articles and publications including “Recreation in the Armed Forces” in Introduction to Recreation and Leisure (2012). Carol wrote the first version of military MWR accreditation standards approved by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) in 2007. She was an active participant in creating the application criteria for the Armed Forces Gold Medal for Recreation, first awarded in 2012.

Carol is a guest speaker on the local, national, and international levels on various recreation issues to include the impact of military recreation, resilience, inclusion, change management, and recreation for returning deployed military members. She currently serves on the Armed Forces Recreation Network in NRPA. Carol is a judge for the National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Parks and Recreation. [August 2015]