Story by Megan Whitehead | Feb 28, 2017
Photography by Keith Borgmeyer

Todd Spalding

Director of Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry

Tell us about your family:

My wife, Amy, and I have been married for 23 years. We met when we were 14 at Camp Windermere at the Lake of the Ozarks. We have four daughters: Brooke, 19, attends Missouri State; Anna, 16, is a sophomore at JCHS; Madeline, 14, and Grace, 12, attend Lewis and Clark Middle School. I also have two dogs. My daughters are very strong, intelligent, confident women, just like their mother.

Please list your education: 

I grew up in Raymore, Missouri, where I attended Raymore-Peculiar High School. I then attended Southwest Baptist University, in Bolivar, Missouri, on a baseball scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in sports management.

Favorite charitable organization and why:

Young Life has had such a positive impact on my family. I admire the organization for helping young people develop the skills, assets, and attitudes to reach their full God-given potential.

What are some of your immediate and long-term goals as director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry?

It was daunting to follow a director who successfully led this department for 33 years, Bill Lockwood. He’s an exemplary leader who gifted me a strong department with a talented and dedicated staff. I made it my objective early on to carry the positive momentum he shaped and will continue to encourage higher quality programming and park experiences.

My big short-term goal is to plan an exciting and successful grand opening for our new Lincoln University and Jefferson City Parks and Recreation multipurpose center. Another short-term goal currently underway is repositioning and revitalizing our community foundation. Our goal is to ensure access to our programs and services to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances.

My major long-term goal is to work with our commission, staff, and community to launch a comprehensive master plan for the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department. The master plan will provide a road map for planning and managing our parks, sports venues, facilities, and overall assets to ensure proper stewardship of the resources entrusted to us by our community.

How do you hope to impact the community with your role? 

I take very seriously the important community service role we have in Parks and Recreation. We know the opening of the multipurpose center, the repositioning of our foundation, and the completion of a master plan will strategically position our department to serve more kids, more families, and more seniors in our community and develop collaborations with kindred community partners.

Tell us your thoughts on the new Jefferson City Wellness Center project the City’s working on with Lincoln University. 

This center will be a compelling force for good for our community. It has the unique opportunity to serve our greater Jefferson City community and the university community and become the focal point for collaborations, community partners, and community unity for an exciting future.

Biggest career obstacle you’ve had to overcome: 

When I became the director of the YMCA in Brookfield, Missouri, I had spent a few years as a sports and fitness programmer and was ready to advance my career. I was 26 when I was offered the job in Brookfield, and I knew that if I didn’t do well, I would be finding a new career. It was a tremendous challenge because there was no physical YMCA — there was just a little bit of seed money and a free office in a bank building. We started completely from scratch. The community supported it tremendously, and within five years we raised over $2 million in a community with a population of 5,000.

Favorite place to spend  an afternoon:

I love a good woodworking project. Lately, since we purchased a 100-year-old house here, I thought now would be the best time to restore all of my grandpa’s old woodworking machines from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. It has been great to spend a weekend afternoon in my basement restoring them to their former glory. My grandpa is the one that got me into woodworking.

Last book you read:

“Hero of the Empire: The Making of Winston Churchill” by Candice Millard.

Favorite TV show:

“Parks and Recreation” – obviously. Ron Swanson is the director I aspire to be and my spirit animal. “Breaking Bad” is my favorite drama. The moral and ethical questions raised in that show are mind-blowing to me.

Favorite comfort food: 

A good steak. Weber Meat Market here in Jefferson City has been the best. They’ve even been able to get me my favorite cut, the hanger steak, which most butchers keep for themselves.

Secret aspiration: 

To be a rock star — more specifically, a younger, angrier Bono.

Source of inspiration:

Theodore Roosevelt. He was a man’s man. He experienced great success and great loss, he lived on the range, he got shot delivering a speech and then finished it, he started a political party, he explored an unknown river in the Amazon. He was a terribly imperfect person, but he did what he thought was right and he kept doing it. He was also one of the very first people to understand the value of setting aside land for conservation.

What is a fun fact about you that most people don’t know? 

I don’t know if I would consider it fun, but I get my eyebrows waxed. Consider it a result of living with five females. It’s an activity we can do together.