BARTOW BIO: Gilliam embraces dream job at Cartersville Parks & Recreation


Taking the helm March 25, Tom Gilliam is looking forward to strengthening and enhancing the Cartersville Parks & Recreation Department.

“I pursued this opportunity because I really liked the city and the parks system,” he said. “With all the acres of parks and miles of trails, I could see potential for greater things for the city and its residents through the Parks & Recreation Department.

“I started working for Fulton County Parks & Rec when I was in high school through their summer camp program as a camp counselor. I liked that so much I did that every summer through college until I graduated. That summer job is what led me to get my degree in Sports and Recreation Management and gave me the passion for this profession that has never left me.”

Name: Tom Gilliam

Occupation (place of work and title): City of Cartersville Parks & Recreation director

City of residence: Woodstock

Family: Son, Zack

Education: Bachelor of Science in Sports and Recreation Management, University of West Georgia; Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education K-12, Kennesaw State University

The Daily Tribune News: What are some of your short- and long-term goals for your department?

Tom Gilliam: Short-term goals would be to increase our program offerings. We are in the early stages of doing this. We want to begin new programs for all age groups through athletic programs, leisure programs, etc. Some that we are looking to start soon is Senior Adult and Adult Pickleball, Youth Lacrosse, Adult Kickball, Adult and Teen Ultimate Frisbee. We are beginning to upgrade some of our facilities, such as getting a new dehumidifier system for the Senior Aquatics Center, new HVAC system for the Gymnastics Center and refurbishing the Civic Center and the Goodyear Clubhouse. We want to improve our communications to the citizens and participants through more of a social media presence and creating a quarterly e-magazine. 

Long-term goals would be to add dedicated pickleball courts in Dellinger Park; develop Sam Smith Park into the signature park for the city, including an indoor facility with basketball courts/fitness rooms/gymnastics/etc.; purchase land for future passive or active parks, and connectivity of the trail system throughout the city.

DTN: Share a little bit about your professional background.

TG: I’ve worked with Fulton County Parks & Rec, Roswell Parks & Rec, Milton Parks & Rec and Canton Parks & Rec as their director, creating both departments in Milton and Canton. I also created and developed the Recreation Ministry for North Metro First Baptist in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and served with SCORE International as their director of North American Missions.

DTN: How does your department's facilities compare to others at the municipalities you have previously served?

TG: No comparison. Cartersville Parks & Recreation has some of the best facilities in the surrounding region and the state. A large number of park acreage and miles of trails along with an impressive aquatics, gymnastics and tennis program. The people that work in the Parks & Recreation Department are phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for a group of better people to work with and grow this department into one of the leading departments in the state as well as the nation. 

DTN: With today being Father's Day, what does being a father mean to you? And what have you enjoyed most about fatherhood?

TG: Being a dad is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Seeing my son grow up and succeed, as well as fail, and how he’s grown from everything he’s experienced to be the fine young man he has grown to become today. And being there for him through the great times and the worst times, but still showing him the unconditional love that only a dad can give.

The thing I’ve enjoyed most about fatherhood is seeing my son grow up and be happy and be successful in his life and seeing our father-son relationship grow from an adult-child relationship to an adult dad-adult son relationship.          

DTN: What is your greatest professional and/or personal achievement?

TG: My greatest professional achievement is becoming the Parks & Recreation director for the city of Cartersville. This job is beyond my wildest dreams, and I am loving every day that I am here. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Cartersville and the Parks & Recreation Department. 

DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?

TG: Honest, open, loyal

DTN: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

TG: I collect Bobbleheads

DTN: What is the best advice you have ever received?

TG: I learned this from my dad — no matter what you are going through, keep fighting and keep your eyes focused straight ahead believing you will achieve what you are striving for.

DTN: What do you like to do in your spare time?

TG: I like to work out and stay active. I love most sports, especially baseball and going to Braves games. I love to travel, with the beach being my happy place. I like going to festivals, concerts and hiking.

DTN: Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

TG: I love the downtown Cartersville area with all the restaurants and shops.