APR Innovators: Nora Jones

APR Innovators is an Asheville Parks & Recreation series highlighting team members going above and beyond to bring huge value to community members through knowledge, connections, and insight that come from a desire to create the best city possible through the power of high-quality recreation programs and safe parks that welcome everyone.


When did you join the Asheville Parks & Recreation (APR) team?

In 2020, I was hired as a temporary office assistant. I mainly reconciled department purchases and answered incoming phone calls and emails. That April, I was reassigned to work with the Ready Team as City of Asheville staff joined the Buncombe County Emergency Management team to create resources providing answers to community members’ questions about COVID-19 and Stay Home, Stay Safe guidance.

I returned to APR’s administrative offices in City Hall in 2021 as Administrative Assistant, the position I am currently in.

What inspired you to apply to join the team?

My biggest inspirational goal when I applied was to work within an organizational system structure that offered room for growth and continued education. APR offers that environment. We’re one big team made up of smaller divisional teams – each focusing on what they do best, all working together toward the same goal of providing outdoor spaces, recreational and athletic programming, wellness activities, and events for whole communities.

Which accomplishments are you most proud of in terms of your work with the department?

I am most proud to be part of a team that continuously works toward improving, streamlining, and providing whole communities access to the information, services, programs, and resources we provide. Helping people who call us navigate our website to find what they are looking for and use our registration system to meet their needs are things I really enjoy!

The Asheville App is a tool the City of Asheville already had in place for community members to report concerns they wanted to share with the City, but it wasn’t well utilized to report issues with the park system. APR Marketing Coordinator Andy Guzy and I created a step-by-step brochure on how to access the app and submit reports to let us know of any maintenance needs or interests within parks. Once people pick up the brochure at community centers or receive instructions by email, they’re almost always surprised how easy it is to use the app and get things taken care of quickly. It really is the best resource to let City of Asheville staff know about things that need to be fixed.

For you personally, what does it mean to work for the department?

Personally, I love working here! Working for APR allows me the opportunity to assist and support the teams I work with while helping the public find answers to their questions. We welcome community members’ questions, suggestions, and concerns. While we may not always be able to provide results for every request, we always listen, gather data and information, and provide the best assistance or solutions we can research and find. 

The confidence I have in my position is a result of other APR team members who engage in professional work standards while balancing their commitments to serve community members and preserving their qualified job performance responsibilities.

How have you grown professionally by working with APR?

Working with APR introduces many to many new experiences and offers opportunities for growth such as:

  • Attending workshops hosted by other City of Asheville departments like the Homelessness Learning Series
  • Volunteering to attend field trips with CAYLA students 
  • Volunteering to attend field trips with our summer camps and outdoor programs
  • Learning how to play pickleball through our monthly clinics so I can better assist callers looking for public courts 
  • Attending educational classes offered by City of Asheville departments like learning basic Spanish to make everyone in our community feel welcome
  • Contacting and conversing with APR coworkers or other City of Asheville departments specializing in different focus areas in order to offer accurate answers and information for questions asked
  • I get to learn and teach by creating resources to share what I’ve learned with the public!

How would you complete this sentence: “I work for Asheville Parks & Recreation because…”

I have the opportunity to continually learn new ways to serve the public and the teams I work with. I share what I learn with the public and our teams. 

A teacher once told me, “If I have the opportunity to learn, then I have the obligation to teach what I learn.” Working with APR allows me to do this. I work for APR because I believe in what we offer our community and each other. I enjoy coming to work and am thankful to have found APR as my professional home – where I have the opportunity to continue to learn, grow, and teach.

Join Nora and other parks and recreation professionals making significant impact as they work to build a strong, healthy, and happy place to live. Current opportunities to work with Asheville Parks & Recreation can be found online.