Ashika Lal

Southgate Recreation & Park District

Contact Details

Southgate Recreation & Park District


Why have you chosen to run for the CPRS State Board of Directors?

I am running for the position of Region 1 Representative on the CPRS State Board of Directors to wholeheartedly serve the CPRS membership and channel my extensive skills and expertise towards steering CPRS governance and direction in a continued positive trajectory. My passion lies in service, and the fulfillment derived from contributing to CPRS, various committees, and boards over several years has been immeasurable. My time on the District 2 board and involvement in diverse groups have not only broadened my knowledge but also facilitated impactful connections. The achievements of District 2 in creating significant learning and networking opportunities for our members stand as a testament to our collective dedication. However, I am driven by an unwavering belief that my capacity for service remains untapped; I am committed to further growth and contribution.
Combined with my professional experience, these years of dedicated service have primed me for elevation to the State Board. My goal is to be a proactive advocate for CPRS and Region 1, collaborating closely with fellow board members to drive tangible advancements. I am poised to leverage this to propel CPRS towards even greater accomplishments and continued growth.

What personal attributes, skills, or knowledge would you bring to the State Board of Directors if elected?

The diverse roles I’ve served have not only honed my leadership abilities but also enriched my understanding of community dynamics, fostering a deeper appreciation for collaborative endeavors. I remain steadfast in my dedication to leveraging my experiences, insights, and unwavering commitment to advance the collective goals of organizations and communities I serve. My professional background combines strategic vision, demonstrated leadership abilities and a profound comprehension of Parks and Recreation. With over two decades of immersion in this field, I've cultivated a wealth of experience, diverse skills, and extensive knowledge. My unwavering dedication to service is evidenced not only in my approach but also in the enthusiasm and positivity I consistently bring to my work. This fervor fuels my commitment to delivering impactful results and contributing meaningfully to our shared goals.

What is the greatest challenge our profession faces and how will you lead to address that challenge?

In my opinion our profession is confronted by a notable, multifaceted challenge: achieving more with fewer resources, reduced staffing, and limited infrastructure. This demand is compounded by the evolving needs and expectations of our diverse communities, all while maintaining existing programs, parks, facilities, open spaces, and events. Staying attuned to dynamic best practices, emerging trends, and community shifts poses an ongoing hurdle. My commitment involves leading the charge against this challenge by remaining knowledgeable of cutting-edge trends and disseminating these insights among peers in any way I can, be it during conferences, gatherings, and other educational platforms.
The struggle to remain a vital resource aligning with community needs intensifies amidst the turnover in staff. Industry professionals widely acknowledge the persistent difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. Moreover, there is a declining interest in pursuing a four-year degree in Parks and Recreation, pair that with the projected decrease in available college-aged individuals in a few years, there exists a pressing need to attract and retain the next generation of professionals in this field. My strategy to address this involves fostering robust partnerships with academic institutions, promoting exposure to the possibilities of a career in parks and recreation among students. Elevating our visibility across diverse communication channels—be it through social media, television, or print—is crucial. While we grasp the impact of our work, bridging this understanding to the broader community, potential employees, and allies requires proactive showcasing. Leading by example, I am committed to persistently engaging in this outreach and encouraging others to do the same.

Please share relevant leadership experiences outside of your work environment.  

My journey of service with CPRS started in 2018 when I joined the Conference Session Selection Committee. The experience was more than fulfilling; it was a gateway to forging invaluable connections and nurturing relationships within the CPRS community. Driven by this experience, I felt compelled to deepen my commitment and ran for the role of Director of Public Relations for CPRS District 2 in 2018. Over two gratifying years, I devoted myself to serving District 2 in this capacity, fostering meaningful connections and amplifying our collective voice. Encouragement from colleagues propelled me further, igniting my ambition to contribute at an elevated level. Stepping into the Presidential Series was both a challenge and an opportunity I embraced wholeheartedly. I assumed the role of District 2 Vice President from 2021-2022 and subsequently transitioned into the role of President Elect from 2022-2023. Currently, I am culminating my term as President of District 2, steering the course for the 2023-24 year with enthusiasm and dedication.
Beyond my involvement with CPRS, I extend my commitment to community service through my involvement on Sacramento State University’s Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration Advisory Committee. I have also served as the Training Chair for the Sacramento Chapter of Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) from 2010 to 2012, where I leveraged my expertise to drive impactful initiatives, networking and education opportunities.