County of Santa Clara Appoints New Parks and Recreation Department Director

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Santa Clara County Public Affairs


Don Rocha, Santa Clara County’s new Parks and Recreation Department Director. Photo Credit: Santa Clara County Public Affairs

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— On Tuesday December 11, the County of Santa Clara announced the appointment of Don Rocha as the new director of the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department. Rocha, who has served as Interim Director since July 2018, joined the Department as a park ranger 30 years ago.

“Don has been a tremendous asset to our County Parks and Recreation Department for the past 30 years,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “I am confident that under Don’s leadership we will continue efforts to make our Santa Clara County Parks a premier parks system with a national reputation.”

As a Deputy Director, Rocha was responsible for park system operations and programs, including Planning, Construction, Natural Resource and Trails, Real Estate, Development and Redevelopment of Park Properties, Grants, and other functions.   Prior to this role, Rocha was a Program Manager II over natural resources and roads and trails where he worked on the implementation of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan.  Rocha was also the Martial Cottle Park Manager and a Natural Resource Management Coordinator.

“I’m honored to have been chosen as Director of the County of Santa Clara Parks and Recreation Department,” said Don Rocha, the new Parks and Recreation Department Director. “I’m looking forward to the future as we move toward accomplishing goals related to the recently approved Strategic Plan; a document that will guide the organization over the next 10 years and make us relevant to our diverse community in Santa Clara County.”

During his tenure with the County, Rocha created the Department’s first natural resource program; created the Department’s first trails program focused on sustainability and balancing quality recreational experiences with park preservation and protection; developed the 10-year capital project budget plan that is now integrated with the Department’s operating budget; and created and implemented the parks prescribe burn program with CalFire and local fire agency partners.

Rocha holds a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Management. He is a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Western Section of The Wildlife Society, California Invasive Plant Council, Society for Ecological Restoration, and the California Native Plant Society.

Rocha, whose appointment was effective Nov. 6, 2018, replaces former Director Robb Courtney who retired in June.

Rocha resides in Gilroy.