Photo of Joe Abel

Joe Abel

Visiting Committee Member

Guest Speaker Topics: Finance, Leadership management, employee empowerment, planning, parks and recreation


Biographical Sketch

Joe was born and raised in Buckhannon, West Virginia and is the youngest of twelve children. Joe earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from WVU in Physical Education / Sports Management in 1985. He also participated on the WVU men’s track team for two seasons as a high jumper.

Up until a year and a half ago, Joe’s entire professional working career was in parks and recreation where he served in the profession for over 32 years. In the Spring of 2019, he began serving as the Deputy County Manager for Seminole County, FL – located just outside of Orlando.

His experiences range from developing, constructing, programming, and managing athletics, aquatics, golf, tennis, and recreation facilities in parks and recreation departments that have been made up of varying services that include Libraries, Extension, Tourism, Natural Lands, Trails, and Parks. Joe has been a certified parks and recreation professional (CPRP) since 1993. His proudest professional accomplishments are the completion of a 102 acre, $37.5M sports complex that was a joint parks, recreation, and tourism endeavor that exceeded the initial five-year economic impact projections from the opening year; and serving as a mentor and servant leader to current and future parks and recreation professionals. Joe also led two different departments to national accreditation and re-accreditations over the past 20 years as well as assisting other departments across Florida in the accreditation process.

Joe’s professional government management experience began in Charleston, West Virginia in 1986 and has continued for the past 30+ years in Florida. Joe has served the parks and recreation profession through leadership positions with the West Virginia Recreation & Park Association, the Florida Recreation & Park Association, and the National Recreation & Park Association. He served as the President of the FRPA and on the Board of Trustees and Executive Board of the NRPA as well as a Board member of the FRPA Foundation. Along with his current Deputy County Manager position, Joe does consulting work in his spare time in the parks and recreation field through operational management, strategic, long range, and master planning as well as educational training opportunities both locally and across the US at state parks and recreation conferences and seminars.

Joe is the proud father of two children; Brittney, a Psychology graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Joseph, a college senior studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida.  Joe and his wife Kimberly are currently the Chapter President and Treasurer/Director of Engagement for the Central Florida WVU Alumni & Friends Chapter.