2015 AFC Apple Award Gala
Willie F. Carden, Jr.

Willie F. Carden, Jr. is a native Cincinnatian and resides in the neighborhood of Colerain Township, with his wife, Tonda, of 24 years.  They have three children: Brittney Maria - 24, Britton Thomas - 22, and Brianna Renee - 20.   Mr. Carden is also a Graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a Baccalaureate of Arts in Finance/Economics, Associates of Arts in Business Management, and a Certificate of Business in CEO/Executive Management.  As a result of his academic drive and leadership skills, he is a Member of Cincinnatus and was also awarded, “Graduate of Leadership Cincinnati Class XXV.” 
Being employed by the City of Cincinnati for the past 27 years, he is currently serving as Director of Cincinnati Parks, under the appointing authority of the Board of Park Commissioners, since July 2000.  As Director of Parks, he is responsible for managing over 5,000 acres (or 10% of the city’s public green space), which includes the administration of over 150 parcels of land in and outside the City of Cincinnati.  He is also accountable for the infrastructure management of 121 facilities and structures, 52 play areas, 60 miles of public trails, 80,000 street trees in the public right of way, environmental science education, two international parks (Munich, Germany and Liuzhou, China), the Krohn Conservatory, 100 pieces of public Art in the parks, and all park programming.  He also leads and directs 151 full-time employees and manages a $13 million dollar budget, which includes both operating and capital funds.  

As previous Executive Director of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation (and current key leader), Mr. Carden has brought the Cincinnati Parks Foundation to its current composition of 50 very influential and prominent civic and corporate leaders, allowing the Parks Foundation to meet its mission: “to provide advocacy for the Cincinnati Park system and to serve as the fund raising arm of the Park Board.”

During his 27-year employment with the City of Cincinnati, he has been privileged to encompass a broad spectrum of work experiences, which proved to be a great asset in his City leadership.  His past work experiences included: Facility Manager for the City of Cincinnati, leading a $3 million dollar effort to restore the Tyler Davidson Fountain; Stadium Manager for Riverfront Stadium-Cinergy Field, managing over 150 events annually and the two primary tenants directly (The Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals); Assistant Chief Labor Negotiator for the City of Cincinnati, managing all four labor contracts (Police, Fire, AFSCME and the Building Trades) assigned to the city; and Superintendent for Neighborhood Services, managing solid waste and curb side recycling for over 350,000 city residents.   
Willie Carden’s passion for the City of Cincinnati is revealed in his community involvement. His interests and commitment to Cincinnati are apparent in his many community activities listed below:
Appointed by Governor Taft to serve as a Council Member to the Ohio Community Service Council 
Appointed by Governor Taft to a second three year term as a board member to the Natural Resources Assistance Council, managing $37.5 million dollars of Clean Ohio “Green” Funds
Past President and Treasurer of the New Orphan Asylum for Children Scholarship Board. This Board provides college scholarships to high school graduates (from the greater Cincinnati area) who have the desire and academic foundation to support a college education.  Over 1,000 students have gone through the program in the past ten years. 
  • Trustee to the Board of Children’s Hospital  
  • Former member of the Summit Country Day School Board
  • Trustee to the Cincinnati Zoo Board
  • Trustee to the Board of DePaul Cristo Rey
  • Member of the International Association of Auditorium Managers
  • Member of the Building Owners and Managers Association 
  • Member of the International Association of Facility Managers

Lastly, due to his great leadership and impact on the City of Cincinnati, Willie F. Carden, Jr. has been recognized by many groups and organizations.  His Honors and Recognitions are as follows:

  • 4C for Children Champion Award – 2013
  • UC Distinguished Alumni Award – 2012
  • Men of Honor Inductee – 2010
  • 2009 Inductee in the Working the Neighborhood (WIN) Hall of Fame for Environmental Leadership
  • 2006 Profiles In Courage Award Recipient
  • Voted 2003-2005 Best User of Public Funds by City Beat 
  • Opened the city of Cincinnati’s first wireless park (Smart Park) at Piatt in April of 2004
  • Received, October 2003, a Senatorial Citation from State Senator Mark Mallory for Outstanding Leadership and Public Service 
  • Received recognition from the Trust for Public Land, 2000-2003, as one of the three “Top Urban Parks Systems” in America 
  • Opened the first park that combines Art, Culture, and Horticulture, and the park is named after the city’s first African American Mayor – The Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park
  • Forged a landmark “parknership” agreement between the Hamilton County Park District and the Cincinnati Park Board that provided over $3 million dollars to Fernbank Park and $4 million dollars to Otto Armleder Park  
  • 2001 Downtown Cincinnati Award Recipient for International Beautification
  • 2000 Downtown Cincinnati Beautification Award Recipient for the restoration of the Tyler Davidson Fountain
  • 2000 & 1999 City of Cincinnati Executive Leader and Management Award Winner
  • 1994 YMCA Black Achiever Award Recipient