Photo Credit: NYC Parks
By: Asar John
York alumnus Michael Dockett became the new Queens Park Commissioner on March 6th, replacing former Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, who retired after serving as commissioner for 14 years.
Dockett graduated from York in 1991 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and went on to pursue his Masters in Business Administration at St. John’s University. He started his career in the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation in 1984, when he became a park ranger while studying at York.
“I was involved in scouting and nature, then I was studying accounting on the side,” said Dockett. “When I was a student at York I saw the advertisement for park ranger and I said, well this is something I do in my spare time and I can get paid to do it.”
Though he started as a ranger, Dockett credits his promotions through the ranks to his hard work, dedication and the opportunities provided to him after he took several civil service exams and interviews, a requirement for city employees.
“As a ranger I conducted a lot of events such as environmental affairs, and I was good at the administration part of the work,” said Dockett. “If you are doing a good job at the job you are doing, you are kind of sought after.”
After being promoted to the position of a supervisor, Dockett was offered other promotions across the city.
“You kind of have to go where the opportunity is,” says Dockett. “If you think you have the skill set or the desire to learn, then step outside of your comfort zone,” which the commissioner said is the formula for success when trying to progress.
Prior to becoming the commissioner, Dockett served as the assistant commissioner for the Urban Park Service since 2008. For the past 13 years, he was tasked with monitoring the Park Enforcement Patrol Unit, the Central Communications Division, the Coordination of Activities at beaches and pools and Emergency Management at Parks.
As commissioner for the Queens Parks Department, Dockett is now responsible for overseeing hundreds of capital projects related to the ongoing rehabilitation of parks.
“My job is to make sure these projects are proceeding and progressing to completion,” said the commissioner.
Several other aspects of the commissioner’s job include focusing on maintenance and recreation divisions as well as working alongside partnering organizations, such as conservation groups.
“I want to work closely with those groups and encourage new groups,” said Dockett.
Dockett encourages students who may potentially change their career path like he did to keep learning and to also get involved with different clubs.
“Study hard while you are in school and learn all you can,” said Dockett. “Don’t just focus 100 percent on academics, but have a good time while you are in school, join the clubs get into the honor society and many other engaging activities.”