Recipient Biography

Carol M. Severin


Carol M. Severin (1929- ) received the Pugsley Medal in 2000. Her multiple roles included being a recreation and leisure services professional, visionary leader, a college-level educator and a policy and decision maker for state, regional and local park boards and organizations. She spent her entire adult life working in and leading initiatives in the parks and recreation field.


Severin earned a BA in recreation from Washington State University in 1951 and a MS from San Francisco State University in 1961. She began her career in the early 1950s working as a youth center director in Monterey, California. This led to work as a recreation supervisor and assistant superintendent with the recreation department for the city of San Mateo, California. During this period she helped found the La Honda Summer Music Camp, and served as its coordinator for ten years.


While at San Mateo, she was hired as an instructor and assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at San Francisco State University. For over forty years in her role as an associate professor at San Francisco State University's Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Severin helped educate future recreation professionals.


In 1994, Severin became an elected member of the board of directors of the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) which serves Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in California with 60 regional parks and an extensive inter-park trails system. She served as board president in 2000.


EBRPD has long been widely respected for its success in fulfilling its park and open space mission. Severin's leadership supported this traditional mission, but was instrumental in encouraging development of a full-service recreation department, which developed new programs to enrich the lives of children, seniors, families and disabled individuals in the East Bay's culturally and ethnically diverse community. Establishment of a recreation department marked a significant turning point in the operational focus of the EBRPD. Severin's legacy is one of bringing people into East Bay's parks and instilling public appreciation for the value of outdoor recreation as part of daily life.


In 2000, EBRPD's 600-person professional staff managed 94,500 acres of parks, open space, preserves, lakes and shorelines and wildernesses serving the 2.4 million residents of the East Bay area. Thanks to Severin's leadership, an expanded base of active outdoor uses including swimming, boating, fishing, rock climbing, bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, golf, youth programs, day camps, family events, volunteer opportunities, and arts and crafts programs were offered in addition to the long-standing tradition of naturalist-led environmental education programs.


The Activity Guide of the EBRPD reached 584,000 homes, six times a year, and carried a summary of entertaining, educational, interesting and fun activities offered nearby -- including programs inspired by Severin's commitment to recreational enrichment. Severin's own column, "At The Parks," appeared monthly in the Castro Valley Forum newspaper.


Prior to her election to EBRPD, Severin served for 14 years as an elected director of the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD) Board. This special district provided extensive parks and recreation facilities and services to over 200,000 residents of Hayward, Castro Valley and San Lorenzo. During her tenure with HARD, Severin was instrumental in promoting and implementing recreational activities that complemented the mission of HARD.


She retired from teaching in 2002. Her long-term commitment to the field was exemplified by her memberships in the California Park and Recreation Society and the National Recreation and Park Association which dated back to 1949 and 1950, respectively.