After 14 years overseeing the growth of the city’s recreational programs and its OASIS Senior Center, Newport Beach recreation and senior services director Laura Detweiler is retiring this month.
“I’ve had a fantastic career. I’ve loved working for the city of Newport. It’s been the pinnacle of my career, but I wanted to be able to practice what I preach. I wanted to retire young when I have the opportunity to travel across the United States and spend more time with family and friends. I just want to be able to maximize my time,” said Detweiler, whose last day is set for April 22.
Detweiler, 54, said she first joined the city in 1991 as a recreation coordinator at OASIS. It was her first full-time job, she recalls, though she would leave the city six years later to work in the cities of Signal Hill, Long Beach and Cypress before eventually returning to Newport Beach in 2008. The combined total of her tenure in the city is 20 years.
“I certainly enjoyed the time I spent at OASIS and getting to know the community and obviously working in a department that was very progressive,” said Detweiler. “I knew there was going to be a lot of potential here over the years. At the time that the position opened, I knew Newport Beach was looking at doing a lot more in terms of developing its parks and programming.
“I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be part of something great. I thought there was lots of opportunities to grow professionally and also to help the department grow.”
Mayor Kevin Muldoon describes Detweiler as “a natural leader and a joy to work with,” adding that she will be missed by both co-workers and residents alike.
“The city of Newport Beach is grateful to her for her 20 years of service to our community,” Muldoon told the Daily Pilot.
During Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council, while presenting a commemorative plaque to Detweiler, Muldoon expanded on his thoughts about her work in the community.
“She has made a tremendous impact here in Newport Beach through the programs and services that she has managed and championed,” the mayor said. “Laura is an innovative and dynamic leader who recruits, mentors and motivates employees to perform at their highest levels. In doing so, she has built a dedicated, hardworking and creative team that will continue to provide the highest level of service to our residents.”
Detweiler said there are a few projects that she’s proud of, pointing to some of the parks that have been updated or built during her tenure, but she’s most proud of the staff she’s accrued in her department and the dozens of programs that the city hosts.
She points with pride to the Newport Navigator that this spring is 76 pages strong listing “everything our families can participate in.
“I like to think we have a little of something for everybody,” she continued. “That has evolved over the years. I’m really proud of our role that we play in bringing the community together.”
Detweiler said she plans on traveling to visit all the national parks and joked she’s really interested in getting into pickleball, but added that she won’t be staying in Newport Beach. She plans to move to the Palm Springs area after she retires.
“I’m going to miss my staff first and foremost. I’m going to miss the teamwork among all the city departments. It’s a symphony to run a city like this,” said Detweiler. “It’s very complicated and I think we have all the right expertise here to do that and do it well.
“I’m going to miss the summers. It’s just such a special, magical place during the summer months.”
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