North Whidbey parks and rec director recognized at state conference

Jay Cochran was recognized by the Washington Recreation and Parks Association

Jay Cochran, executive director of the North Whidbey Pool, Park and Recreation District, was recognized by the Washington Recreation and Parks Association, or WRPA, at its 76th annual conference last month.

Named after the association’s longtime legislative lobbyist, Doug Levy, the Levy Legislative Award is for someone who significantly contributed to advancing the legislative agenda and for advocacy efforts that advance the general field.

The award process was a bit unusual this year, said Tiffany Hanzo Martin, WRPA executive director, as typically the legislative chair, lobbyist and awards chair review the nominees. With no nominees, the team hand-selected Cochran.

She was chosen for spearheading a significant initiative that evolved into House Bill 1086, aimed at enhancing the collaboration between park districts and local governments. Last year, she was proactive in collaborating with the WRPA and state Rep. Clyde Shavers to push the bill through the legislative process.

Cochran testified multiple times in Olympia, and this support was pivotal as the bill, which increases contract limits and improves maintenance, was successfully passed into law in May of 2023, Martin said.

Cochran said she has been working in parks and rec in Washington for just four years, so it was an honor and a surprise to be recognized.

“The room was packed with people, and I didn’t really know what I was doing as I walked up there,” she said, “so it was really cool seeing the support that I received from everybody.”

Cochran’s hard work does not go unrecognized by the district, said Brit Kraner, chair of the parks and rec district board.

“Jay works incredibly hard for the district,” she said, “and I am so proud that her efforts are being recognized by others outside of our organization. I am so proud that she is being recognized by her peers, and I am grateful to have her representing us.”