Mill Valley City Manager Todd Cusimano has appointed Ashley Howe as the city’s Arts and Recreation Director, effective April 24. Howe most recently served as the Director of Parks and Recreation in Corte Madera.
Howe will take over for Sean McGrew, who was officially named Arts & Recreation Director in June 2021 after a 16-month stint as the Interim Arts & Recreation Director. Then-City Manager Alan Piombo announced move, with McGrew taking took over for Jenny Rogers in late 2019. “During his many years in Recreation, Sean has demonstrated visionary and collaborative leadership and the ability to lead and motivate staff, as well as working with a diverse workforce and community,” Piombo said at the time. He “has managed the Recreation Department’s response to the pandemic, providing emergency shelter for fire evacuees, and the re-envisioning of the City’s Arts and Recreation programs.”
McGrew had announced his retirement after more than 40 years of service in the municipal arts and recreation sector.
“Our Recreation Department is a key player in achieving our goals of a vibrant, healthy community and high quality of life in Mill Valley,” Mayor Jim Wickham said. “We are very pleased that Ashley will join us – bringing her experience and enthusiasm to lead our team.”
“The commission feels it’s critical to bring on board an experienced community-minded and energetic leader,” said Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Vanessa Justice. “Ashley’s excellent communication and collaboration skills make her a great fit to seamlessly continue work on the many projects underway and to oversee exciting initiatives planned for the future.”
Howe has more than 20 years of arts and recreation experience, which began in San Rafael at the Marinwood Community Services District and includes other Bay Area organizations in Tiburon, Benicia, San Rafael, and Corte Madera. Over her career, she has had experience in managing, directing, supervising, and coordinating various recreation programs and special events for the community including programs for youth and teens, aquatics, art exhibitions, outdoor music events, and movie in the park events.
She has overseen the maintenance of parks and related facilities, including the historic Clock Tower in Benicia and both the Falkirk Cultural Center and the Albert Park Stadium and Ballfield in San Rafael. She has experience supervising the work of full- and part-time staff, volunteers, and providing staff support to agency Committees, Commissions and Councils.
Howe has managed department budgets, coordinated Capital Improvement Projects, and overseen contracted development and management. In San Rafael she worked on the redevelopment of the Albert Park Playground that included collaboration with community stakeholders and supporting fundraising campaigns. In Corte Madera, she initiated a Parks and Recreation Master Planning Process that included a community needs assessment survey, community engagement, and a conditions assessment of facilities to develop prioritization and recommendations for future review and consideration by the Town’s Parks & Recreation Commission and Council.
Howe attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for her undergraduate degree in Recreation Administration and completed her Masters degree from San Francisco State University in Recreation and Leisure Studies.