Friends of West U Parks Chair Leah Ragiel Stepping Down
After serving two terms as the chair of the Friends of West U Parks, Leah Ragiel has decided to step off the board.
Ragiel has volunteered with Friends for more than 10 years and has decided to step down as chair and let a new group take over. Board member Amanda McGee has been named the new chair of Friends and will take over on Sept. 1.
“I can’t believe I’ve been doing it for as long as I’ve been doing it,” Ragiel said, adding that she needs to focus on her family. “It’s time for the next generation to decide what happens with the parks.”
The Friends of West U Parks Fund is a nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $5 million for the city’s parks.
When Ragiel stepped into her position as chair, Friends had pre-pledged funds toward the Recreation Center playground and shade structure. During Ragiel’s two years as chair, Friends was able to pay that money back to the city, renovated Judson Park and contributed to the artificial turf at Weir Park.
Ragiel said she is leaving the board with a healthy balance in their bank account and under McGee’s leadership the board will determine how to best spend the money on West U’s parks.
Ragiel was instrumental in launching the Friends donor wall project at the West U Rec. Center and she will continue to be involved in the project as an advisory board member.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Leah Ragiel as the Friend Chair for the past couple of years,” Friends Executive Director Donna LaMond said. “She has been an inspiring leader for the Friends board and I wish her the best.”
Ragiel said that McGee “makes perfect sense” as chair, having chaired Fathers and Flashlights in 2011 and now again in 2012. She also has young children who use the parks.
McGee is a thoughtful person, easy to work with, can weigh different points of view and people just like her, Ragiel said.
“She’s perfect for all those reasons,” she said.
“I am very excited about working with Amanda because I know just how wonderful she is to work with,” LaMond said. “Amanda is well known throughout our community and has served in other leadership positions as well thus bringing strong experience to the position. I am confident that Amanda will be a dynamic Friends board chair.”
Ragiel said that Friends is “truly a community function” and she has enjoyed each year she’s served with the organization.
“The future is bright,” she said. “If I could stay and be a part of it I would. I’m remorseful, I really am.”