Richard Zavala began his career as Director of Park and Recreation in White Settlement. From 1983-92 he served first as Park Maintenance Supervisor, then General Supervisor and finally Assistant Director for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department. In January 1992 he became Director of Parks and Community Services in Fort Worth, Texas. In his current position he is responsible for management and administration of parks, recreation, and community services, including 350 full time and 200 part time positions, 20 community centers, 5 golf courses, 7 swimming pools, 210 park sites encompassing 10,000 acres and a budget of over $33 million. Fort Worth was selected as the Gold Medal City Award recipient by NRPA in 1996. Fort Worth also won the state equivalent of this award in 1992, 1994 and 2000 and was a national finalist in 1993 and 1995.
In 1994, the city's Human Services Division was added to the Parks and Recreation Department, to create the Parks and Community Services Department. This merger added a number of responsibilities to Richard's portfolio, including seven multipurpose centers; the emergency homeless program, emergency utilities program and the neighborhood resources development program, which has nine offices and a $4 million state and federal grant budget.
Richard has used a variety of innovative partnerships to build innovative programs in Fort Worth. Among these are the Comin' Up Gang Intervention program in cooperation with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth and the Police Department; the Zoo Association management contract; the Diamond Hill Coalition After-School Program in cooperation with YMCA and Camp Fire; and the Youth Sports Program in cooperation with the Youth Sports Council.
Richard has been very active in his profession. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of National Recreation and Park Association for 9 years, and served on the Executive and Finance Committees. In 1995, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Park and Recreation Administration. Richard has "volunteered" Fort Worth as the host city (in cooperation with Texas A&M, the Academy, and NRPA) for a series of pace setting national at-risk youth conferences. Richard has also been active with the Southwest Park and Recreation Training Institute and has served on the Board of Directors for a variety of organizations in Fort Worth (e.g., Boys and Girls Clubs, Speedway Children's Charities, and the Botanical Research Institute).