March is Women’s History Month, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. In honor of Women’s History Month and the Plainfield Park District’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Policy, we are highlighting some of the amazing women that work here.
Next up is Recreation Manager of Facilities & Aquatics Beth Brannen, who first joined the Park District in 2005 as a lifeguard and swim lesson instructor, working in the summers while attending Plainfield Central High School and later Eastern Illinois University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in special education in 2011.
Beth grew up in the District, taking swim lessons at Ottawa Street Pool and being a member of the Plainfield Sharks swim team. She also played soccer for the Plainfield Soccer Association and later Plainfield Central.
From 2008 to 2018, Beth worked in special education but continued to work part-time in a variety of roles including head lifeguard, swim lesson instructor and coordinator, assistant manager and manager (2010-present) at Ottawa Street Pool. She also worked in the guest services department during this time and even was the Easter Bunny for the Flashlight Egg Hunt.
“I’d always come back in the summers,” Brannen said. “I had friends that worked here, and I love working with little kids and teaching them how to swim.”
In January of 2018, Beth accepted the full-time position of Recreation Supervisor of Athletics and Aquatics. Less than two years later, she was promoted to her current position as Recreation Manager of Facilities & Aquatics. She oversees the 40,000-square foot Prairie Activity & Recreation Center and 278,000-gallon Ottawa Street Pool. That includes supervision of two full-time, 20 part-time and 40 seasonal employees in addition to facility memberships and facility/shelter rentals.
“It’s great to have our own facility for the community,” Brannen said. “We’re able to provide so many opportunities that we couldn’t really do before.”
Beth holds a bevy of certifications including Certified Pool Operator, Certified Park & Recreation Professional, American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor, Water Safety Instructor and American Red Cross Lifeguard/CPR/First Aid/AED Certification. She teaches CPR classes for all Park District employees.
Beth resides in Plainfield with her husband, Riley, and their two children, who love visiting the different parks. Their favorite is the “blue one,” otherwise known as Walker’s Grove Tot Park.