Mr. William “Bill” Scalzo, was born in 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also known as the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges. He attended North Catholic High School, and then moved onto Duquesne University where he received his Bachelor of Arts.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with his Master’s Degree in 1969, Bill dedicated his nearly four-decade career to the field of recreation and administration service.
Looking at his background, one might say that his first job as a youth director at the Pittsburgh YMCA is what sparked his passion for the recreation field. It was here that he strengthened his leadership, family programming, athletics, community outreach, budgeting, relationship building, and marketing skills.
After spending three years with the YMCA, Bill went on to become the superintendent of recreation and administration for the City of Pittsburgh where he helped to create an extensive senior center program staffed by young professionals he personally recruited from Penn State University.
In 1980, he transitioned over to Essex County as the interim county administrator, and then moved into a more permanent position as the director for the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs. He oversaw a massive restoration program for the county’s park system. The restoration project included Branch Brook Park, founded in 1895, which is the largest public park in the city of Newark. This park is known for having over 5,000 cherry blossom trees, a rich history of American Civil War ties, and has been placed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historical Places.
After serving a short term as the director for the Department of Natural Resources in the City of Toledo, Bill accepted a director position with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and moved to Arizona. This is where he would create his legacy.
Most notable is his valuable contributions and dedication to expanding and enhancing the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department into one of the nation’s premier open space park systems in the United States during his 15-year career with the department.
During his tenure as director, his entrepreneurial flair, powerful negotiation skills and passion for parks guided the department from an agency that was dependent upon General Fund dollars, to a largely self-sufficient agency that generated most of its operating budget through park users and concessionaire fees. He took a system of parks that were only open on a seasonal basis and had them opened to the public 365 days a year. In addition, he added new private sector recreation concessionaires into the system which expanded recreation opportunities for the public and generated revenue to expand other park programs and services.
Bill is very focused, and tenacious when negotiating a contract to ensure there is always a win-win element in the agreement for all parties. He has been successful in doing this by surrounding himself with experts in the field he’s navigating, and truly listening to their input. He has always believed there is a solution to be found if we are willing to be creative and responsive to the needs of our public.
With that type of outlook and ingenuity, he paved the way for some imaginative public/public and public/private partnerships throughout his career.
Two years after accepting the director position, his role expanded to include the Maricopa County Library District and Stadium District. In 1997, his responsibilities expanded further when he was appointed to an assistant county manager position.
In this role, he directed the day-to-day operations of the Parks and Recreation Department as well as the Stadium District. As if that wasn’t enough, the offices of Community/Economic Development, Human Services, Housing Authority of Maricopa County, and the Maricopa County Events Center were soon added to his ever growing list of responsibilities.
Some of Bill’s greatest accomplishments include:
• Initiating the Maricopa Trail project, a 315-mile regional trail system that would link all of Maricopa County’s regional parks with communities through central Arizona
• Development of the Scorpion Bay Marina at Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a 23-million dollar development project with zero cost to the county
• Creation of Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, a partnership between Arizona State Parks, the Town of Cave Creek, and Maricopa County, which added an approximately 3,000-acre gem to Maricopa County’s regional park system
• Recipient of the Governor’s 2005 Arizona Quality of Excellence Award from the Southwest Alliance of Excellence using the Malcomb Baldridge Excellence Framework
• Governor appointment to the Arizona State Parks Board, Chair
• First recipient of the David E. Clark Distinguished Professional Award, APRS
• Served on the Board of Regents for the National Recreation and Park Association’s Revenue Development and Management School
• Received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Recreation and Park Association Pacific Southwest Regional Council
• Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Charities Board of Directors
As a director, he was dedicated to mentoring the individuals on his team to their fullest potential, and ensuring that everything was done in the best interest of the county. Bill’s leadership style guided Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department toward a forward-thinking model and enabled staff to grow and flourish.
In 2007, he stepped away from managing the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and promoted his predecessor, a member of his team whom he had hired and mentored, but continued in his role as assistant county manager for five other departments.
After sixteen years of service as a leader providing unwavering support and direction, Bill decided it was time to retire from Maricopa County. However, retirement was not for Bill and he soon started his own consulting business, World Class Service, LLC, which focused on providing assistance with government relations, management consulting, strategic development, public and private partnerships, issue advocacy and much more.
Today, Bill enjoys volunteering his time and expertise as the vice president for the Gilbert Parks and Recreation Foundation, and is the acting finance chair for St. Anne Catholic Church. His wife of 48 years, Virginia, and children have been by his side throughout his life-long journey to bridge gaps in service and connect people with nature. [September 2018]