Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners

The Parks and Recreation Department is governed by a volunteer Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners who are appointed by the Mayor. Board Meetings>>

Commissioners (L-R): Tom Gorenc, DePrice Taylor, President Beth Haden, Stephenie Smith and Pat Contreras.

Beth Haden, President (October 2023-Present)
Beth Haden is a partner at Lathrop GPM LLP, representing lenders and borrowers in lending transactions. She has considerable experience assisting clients with all forms of financing matters, from the structuring of deals, to drafting and negotiating the required documentation, and managing complex closings, through loan enforcements and workouts.  Outside of work, as a member of the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI) board of directors for over a decade, Beth helped foster the organization’s mission to serve blind and visually impaired children, their families, and the community through specialized education and therapy services. She is also the current treasurer of the Children’s Center Campus board of directors, which owns and operates the building housing two area non-profits (including CCVI).  In addition to serving the community at large, Beth believes that one must also be actively involved with the business community. She is a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and graduated from its Centurions program in 2020. Beth serves on the Chamber’s Business for Education Committee which strives to support efforts and policies necessary for a well-connected, high performing education system serving all students (particularly those who have been chronically underserved) and supporting critical workforce and business needs. Beth was recently named a 2023 Up & Coming Lawyer by Missouri Lawyers Weekly and was recognized in the 24th class of Ingram’s “40 Under Forty.” She received the Distinguished Alumna award from St. Teresa’s Academy in 2023. 

Pat Contreras, Commissioner (October 2023-Present)
It only makes sense that Pat Contreras would be Vice President of Business Development at McCownGordon. Not only has he served as a U.S. diplomat for the State Department, he ran for state treasurer in Missouri, garnering endorsements from some of the most influential politicians and organizations in the state. At McCownGordon, the Kansas City native leads business development for the company’s largest business unit and works across various markets such as civic, healthcare, corporate and education.  He also plays a strategic leadership role on the diversity and inclusion team and guides McCownGordon’s interests in the public policy arena. Contreras, who earned degrees in economics from Saint Louis University and an MPA from Columbia University in New York, serves on the boards of University Health and the executive committee of the Downtown Council.  As Chairman of the Kansas City, Missouri Committee of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Contreras facilitates conversations between Chamber members, city officials and community leaders to help grow the region’s economy.

Tom Gorenc, Commissioner (October 2023-Present)
Tom Gorenc is a lifelong resident of Kansas City, Missouri. He grew up in the northeast section of the city and graduated from Northeast High School in 1972. He also attended Penn Valley Community College where he obtained an Associate Degree in Real Estate and then completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Business at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. He utilized this knowledge to build a portfolio of real estate and a successful automotive retail business for over 40 years. Outside of work, Tom has been actively involved in community organizations, including Knights of Columbus, Board Member of St. Mary’s High School, Treasurer for Fairmount Plaza Development, Presenter/Fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and a Member of Northland Neighborhoods, Inc. Board. Tom has made a commitment to the City of Kansas City (under four different mayors) to serve on various boards, including the Kansas City 1st District Neighborhood Advisory Council, the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund Program, the Alcoholic and Beverage Advisory Group, the Chronic Nuisance Board, the Board of Zoning Adjustments, the Kansas City Museum Foundation, and the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Board.

DePrice Taylor, Commissioner (October 2023-Present)
A native of Detroit, MI and now calls Kansas City, MO home, DePrice is the product of resilience and growth. With over 15 years committed to youth development and steering non-profit leadership, she currently serves as the dedicated Executive Director of Community Relations for the KC Current. Going beyond titles, DePrice breathes life into sports equity, S.T.E.M. initiatives, and the continuous pursuit of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

A first-generation college graduate, DePrice holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a Master of Science in Health Human Performance and Recreation from Pittsburg State University. In her capacity, DePrice is an alum of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program and holds the distinguished title of NextGen Leader as recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal.

In addition to her professional roles, DePrice invests in her community’s future, contributing to boards such as Black Excellence Kansas City, Sports Commission Emerging Leaders Advisory Board, and the Pittsburg State Alumni Board.

Beyond titles and accolades, she actively extends her guidance and mentorship to adolescents in her community—a testament to her commitment to fostering growth and resilience in others.

Stephenie K. Smith, Commissioner (February 2023-Present)
Commissioner Smith is co-founder and managing partner of Sophic Solutions and is the lead authority on operationalizing equity, executive project management, organizational structure & design and operations improvement. She has led a number of efforts to align not-for-profit policy with community investments, with a special emphasis on large-scale transformation. As well, Stephenie serves as a key community leader and advisor. She is engaged in the revitalization of community by fostering strategic partnerships and leading new program innovations. Stephenie also serves as a Graduate Adjunct Professor where she specializes in operationalizing equity. Above all, her work has been shaped by a holistic approach to wellness and the belief that equity matters.  With over 20 years of experience, Stephenie has leveraged her social work background to explicitly focus on the effects of poverty and oppression. In so doing, community revitalization, change management and diversity, equity & inclusion have taken center stage. These involvements have led to her serving on a number of local government commissions, boards and national committees. Stephenie is a graduate of Fisk University and the University of Tennessee College of Social Work

Chris Cotten, Director
Chris Cotten is a parks professional with 30 years of experience in sports management and parks and recreation operations including 16 years as department director in the cities of Salina, Kan., Normal, Ill., Joplin and Harrisonville, Mo. He previously worked for KC Parks managing the Brush Creek Community Center from 1999-2004. Mr. Cotten received his bachelor’s degree in Secondary & Physical Education from Drury University and a Master of Physical Education with an emphasis in Sport and Leisure Management. He is also a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional.

The Board of Parks and Recreation holds public meetings every other Tuesday at the Parks and Recreation Department Administration building, 4600 E. 63rd St. The first meeting of the month begins at 2 p.m. and the second begins at 5 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

To contact the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners
Karmen Houston, Secretary
4600 E. 63rd St.
Kansas City, MO 64130
[email protected]