Courtney Meehan (’07), the Path to Success
Courtney Fox Meehan has big shoes to fill. As the Lansdale Borough Director of Parks and Recreation, she follows a person who held the position for 47 years. A 2007 Penn State graduate with a degree in what is now Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management (RPTM), and with years of experience in the municipal recreation field, Courtney is on the path to success.
Courtney Meehan applied to Penn State with the idea of majoring in Education. After her first semester, she realized that Education wasn’t for her. In a conversation with an advisor, they started eliminating career paths. Math? No. Science? No. Business? Maybe. Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management soon stood out. It was through this process that she found RPTM.
“It’s funny; in high school when we did those career assessments, recreation director was one of the jobs that came up for me.”
Selecting the option of what was then commercial and community recreation management, Courtney completed her internship in resort recreation on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. After graduation she headed to the Pacific Northwest and accepted a position within the YMCA system on Orcas Island, leading outdoor and environmental education programs. “That is where I learned my love for non-profit recreation. I always thought I would be on a cruise ship or at a resort somewhere running activities. When I was a student, I heard about municipal recreation, but I didn’t even consider it.”
As an undergraduate, Courtney became involved with the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS), a member organization that supports professionals in the fields of recreation. While attending the annual PRPS Conference and Expo, her paths crossed with Penn State alumni at the Penn State-sponsored social. “It’s all about who you know,” she said. “I give all the credit to that conference for helping me with my career.”
She eventually returned to Pennsylvania and started looking for a job. She heard through the grapevine that current Parks and Recreation Director at Upper Dublin Township and Penn State RPTM graduate Derek Dereka, who Courtney had met at the PRPS conference, was hiring. The rest, as they say, is history. After some time with Upper Dublin, Courtney moved to nearby Whitpain Township Parks and Recreation Department where she spent 11 years, gaining more experience and taking on more responsibility. In 2022, she accepted the Director position with Lansdale Borough. In her current position, she oversees 21 parks, two pools, special events, and a variety of programs. She is one of nine full-time and one part-time staff. In the summer, they hire up to 100 seasonal staff to operate the pools and specialty camps. Her goal is to resume some of the traditional summer day camps that were lost during the pandemic.
“I love my job. I’m never going to leave recreation,” said Courtney. “We have the ability to bring events and activities to our citizens, and really enhance the quality of their lives. It’s fun to get to do that every day. We learn in municipal recreation that it can be a challenge sometimes working for elected officials, especially because they change with each election. I am lucky at Lansdale because we are really supported. It is the best of both worlds and offers great work-life balance.”
Courtney continues to be involved with the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society. She has been a past member of the community recreation branch committee within PRPS, and this year is serving on the education committee planning next year’s conference and expo to be held at Seven Springs Resort in March of 2024.
Courtney Meehan is on the road to success and will undoubtedly fill those big shoes with enthusiasm, experience, and a love for what she does. To quote Marilyn Monroe, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.”