Archetypes: Lesley Hoffarth
A conversation with Lesley Hoffarth, president and executive director of Forest Park Forever, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and sustaining St. Louis’ greatest green space, now and forever. Describing the organization’s purpose as “work that will never truly be done,” Hoffarth leads a 30-person team dedicated to making the park a place of true community and serenity.
Since joining Forest Park Forever in 2010, Hoffarth has been instrumental in implementing the strategic plan that will take Forest Park into the next generation. Recent accomplishments have included the park’s first Fair St. Louis and Burnin’ Love Festival, which have encouraged long-term plans to create more event space— starting with a facelift of the Upper Muny Lot. In addition, visitors will begin to notice new signs, maps and info kiosks througout the park over the next year.
“My love and appreciation for the park grows more every day,” Hoffarth says. “I appreciate the different seasons, landscapes and structures— but it’s the people who bring it to life.”
What is your current frame of mind? Very forward-looking.
When and where are you happiest? At home with my family.
What is your favorite smell? The smell of coffee as my husband brings it in.
What is one word that describes you? Enthusiastic.
What did you eat for breakfast today? A bowl of cereal and the last two bites of a granola bar my son didn’t finish.
What is your most marked characteristic? My collaborative nature: I love to get people around the table.
What is your greatest weakness? I always think the best of people, sometimes to a fault.
What trait do you most admire in others? The ability to really listen.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life? My husband and kids.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My reference of time—I always try to fit in one more thing.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I am really, truly happy, at peace and content. And, having the ability to do great things that affect a lot of people.
Which living person do you most admire? My sister, who has had to deal with a lot of tough situations, and my son, who always has a positive outlook.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, who or what would it be? I’d come back as myself—let’s do it again!
What is your most treasured possession? Time hanging at home with my family and friends.
What is your greatest fear? One of my kids dying before me.
Which artists do you admire most? My daughter, Nicole, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
What is your favorite hobby? I love to cook and entertain.
Where would you most like to live? Right here where I am.
Who are your heroes in real life? Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks.
What are you most looking forward to? Seeing my kids grow into happy, successful people, and the day Forest Park’s Master Plan is fulfilled.
What is one thing you wish would happen? That we would all learn to appreciate our differences.
If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be? Take time to enjoy every day. And don’t rush to grow up.
Photo credit: Wesley Law