Meet Leah Hernandez
15 years with the City of Santa Rosa
Meet Leah! Leah oversees Howarth Park operations and recreational activities (including the boating programs and rentals), the amusement area (train, carousel, and animal barn), and all the other fun outdoor community events and activities like Movies in the Park and Halloween at Howarth. Raised in a hardworking Santa Rosa family, Leah’s family could not always easily afford extracurricular activities. Luckily for her, she qualified for a free drop-in summer program at her elementary school from the City of Santa Rosa’s Recreation and Parks Department, and years later, as a teenager, Leah was handed a recruitment flier to apply for a Recreation Leader position working for the same programs she once attended as a child, through the Neighborhood Services division. Leah credits this first summer program as her introduction to the “summer camp” experience igniting a career and a passion for working with underserved youth. After 15 years working in youth programs, it’s the people she meets who keep Leah coming to work each day. She enjoys working in the community and interacting with the public, whether it is the kids and their parents who she’s worked with for years, or the families she meets in the line for the train ride at Howarth Park. Leah says she has the best coworkers around, as they prove to her time again that they are committed to the families they serve. At work, Leah is renowned for boosting staff morale during the busy summer months for staff and to try to replicate in the office what the Rec team preaches in the field: to be professional at your job and great at what they do, while remaining a big kid at heart. Leah encourages other women to follow their passions and consider a career with the City of Santa Rosa. She believes it is important for young people to see positive female role models in all fields. In Leah’s division, she had been involved in co-ed sports programs and finds it incredibly impactful for the young girls and women, as it, increases their interest, confidence, and civic engagement. Leah’s advice to others? Take risks. Each time you step out of your comfort zone and try something new, you grow, whether that is professionally or personally. There is hardly a dull moment for Leah. The variety of paths you can take, and all the valuable life skills you can learn in the recreation field make it a rewarding and exciting career path. When Leah is not working, you can find her spending time with family and friends, crafting and creating art, and working on DIY projects. Leah also enjoys propagating succulents, gardening, and spending time in the backyard with her significant other and their chocolate lab, Chewie.