Community Profile: Glenwood Springs Parks and Rec Director loves the memories made in public service |

Community Profile: Glenwood Springs Parks and Rec Director loves the memories made in public service

Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Department Director Brian Smith stands beside the Roaring Fork River at Veltus Park.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith has been all around the country, but he found his place in the mountains where he’s able to provide a rewarding public service to everyone else who lives here.

Smith describes himself as a “mutt of culture,” saying that his travels during childhood took him through 10 different states.

“As an adult, my wife and I spent six months touring the country with our four children exploring national parks and each state’s unique culture,” Smith said. “We met a lot of amazing people and experienced everything that makes America so special. Our favorite region has always been the Mountain West, where we’ve raised our children and have always considered home.”

Smith said Glenwood Springs, in particular, has been a community where he and his family felt they could make a difference and contribute.

“We love the culture, the friendliness and sense of belonging,” Smith said. “We love how having fun is one of the values in our town as well as one of the biggest economic drivers here.”

Smith got involved with public parks and recreation by working as a day camp counselor with a summer camp for kids and adults with disabilities.

“It was a powerful experience working with kids whose parents thought they would never be able to do some everyday things like other kids, such as swimming,” Smith said.

“And then seeing the parent’s reaction when their child shows them they can swim — the joy for me wasn’t just teaching a kid to swim, it was seeing the mental barriers crumble for the parent and the excitement and gratitude in their face of what’s possible for their child’s quality of life. The realization that their child is more able than they knew; that’s a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment you just don’t experience with many jobs.”

Smith said those kinds of experiences have made it more of a calling than a job.

“Almost every professional athlete started out and discovered their passion for the sport through a community recreation program,” Smith added. “That’s a pretty awesome influence we get to have in the lives of youth.”

Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes said Smith is a huge value to the city.

“He runs a great department and is the nicest guy,” Godes said. “No matter how arduous the request, Brian always finds a way to help someone out.”

In his spare time, Smith said he loves to travel and explore with his family.

“Sometimes it’s a far away trip, but mostly we stay local. In the five years since we settled here, we still find new restaurants, parks, trails, shops and fun experiences we haven’t tried yet,” Smith said.

“Most weekends you can find us on a family bike ride, swimming at a pool or cooling off on the river kayaking, or having a barbecue at a park.”

Smith said he likes to take hikes, one-on-one, with each member of his family.

“We just really enjoy each other’s company and making memories,” Smith said.

Smith’s favorite part of his job is knowing what he does makes an impact every day in the lives of his neighbors.

“I’ve run into adults that use to attend our events as a kid maybe watching fireworks with their family in a park or who participated in a sports program or day camp or who learned to swim at our pool, or won a skating competition when they were little, and it’s incredible to see the excitement in their face as they recall some of their favorite memories growing up,” Smith said.

“That’s my favorite part of what I do in parks and recreation — provide memories that last a lifetime.”

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or

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