City Council confirmed Mayor Ray O’Connell's nomination of Ms. Karen El-Chaar to become the city’s next Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation on Wednesday, October 3. Ms. El-Chaar's first day on the job will be Monday, October 15.
Ms. El-Chaar has been Executive Director of Friends of the Allentown Parks since 2010. As such, she is responsible for fiscal, administrative and operations management of the non-profit organization. Her management of fiscal activities include development and implementation of fundraising initiatives, grant writing and solicitation of project sponsors. El-Chaar is credited with developing and implementing programs which complement and support activities of the department.
El-Chaar is currently an assistant professor at Cedar Crest College in the Department of Business, Management and Economics.
El-Chaar brings a vast amount of experience to the job both inside and outside of government. She served 10 years in the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, including seven years as Director, Global Operations in the Office of International Business Development. Prior to coming to state government, El-Chaar worked at Air Products & Chemicals in international trade.
“Karen is eminently qualified to take over the Department of Parks & Recreation,” said O’Connell. “She is already well acquainted with the staff and brings the type of management experience necessary to run the department. She is responsible for a number of special programs that have brought thousands of folks to our parks.”
"I really enjoy my work with Friends of the Allentown Parks and I want to thank Mayor O’Connell for the opportunity to do even more. I am sincerely looking forward to making Allentown's great park system even better, working with youth sports organizations and the Allentown School District to bring greater opportunities for our youth and ensuring that our park and recreation assets remain strong and vibrant."
El-Chaar has a BS in Secondary Education and German from East Stroudsburg University, an MBA from Wilkes University and a law degree from Temple University School of Law.
El-Chaar will earn $95,000 annually in the position.