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Landscape Architecture Alumnus Named Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer of NYC Parks

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Mark Focht

Congratulations to Mark Focht (’83 B.S. L.Arch.), PLA, FASLA, who has been named deputy commissioner/chief operating officer of New York City Parks.

“Mark [is an] exemplary passionate public servant, and I am proud to have [him] join the Parks leadership team,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.

Focht, who most recently served as first deputy commissioner for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, will oversee borough operations and Citywide Services. He will help guide the implementation of strategic operational goals to improve how the city cares for parks, including development of standard operating procedures and sharing of best practices across the boroughs.

“I am very pleased to join NYC Parks and look forward to working with staff to further provide New Yorkers high-quality green spaces,” said Focht. “My landscape architecture education at Penn State provided me with a strong basis for working in the public realm.” 

Focht is a licensed landscape architect with more than 30 years’ experience in the private, public, non-profit, and academic areas of practice. As first deputy commissioner for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, he oversaw operations, maintenance, planning, capital, property management, urban forestry, ecosystem management, and security for a 10,200-acre system including 197 passive parks, 55 recreation centers, 97 playgrounds, and 71 outdoor swimming pools.

Prior appointments include executive director of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park System; director of the park’s Environment, Stewardship and Education Division; and director of capital projects for the Center City District (Philadelphia, PA), a private sector business improvement district. Additionally, Focht has more than ten years’ experience with two multi-disciplinary design firms and was an adjunct professor in Temple University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture from 1989 to 2010.

Focht was named a Penn State Alumni Fellow in 2015 and has received alumni awards from the University of Massachusetts (2013) and Penn State (2007). He was inducted as a Fellow in the American Society of Landscape Architects in October 2008, and served as the society’s vice president for communications in 2010–11 and president-elect, president, and immediate past president in 2013–15.

Focht’s love of parks grew from frequent family camping trips to state and national parks while growing up. In addition to his Penn State degree, he holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts.