Friends of Wilmington Parks is dedicated to maintaining the beauty and enjoyment of the Wilmington State Parks system. Through programs, clean ups, plantings and restoration of historic monuments, we’re committed to keeping the parks enjoyable destinations for the community.

The Wilmington State Parks encompass five lush, urban parks along the Brandywine River in Delaware:

  • Brandywine Park marvels with its beautiful views of the Brandywine River as well as historic monuments.
  • H. Fletcher Brown Park provides a small oasis in the Wilmington business district.
  • Rockford Park in Wilmington’s Highlands neighborhood has one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city, the Rockford Tower.
  • Alapocas Run State Park, located between Augustine Cutoff and Route 141, encompasses 191 acres of woodland used by hikers, joggers and cyclists.
  • Kentmere Parkway is a half-mile long green parkway connecting Brandywine and Rockford Parks.


Donald W. Jackson, Executive Director

Donald serves as the Executive Director of Friends of Wilmington Parks. For over two decades Donald served as the Director of Horticulture for the Williamson College of the Trades, teaching and mentoring young men during their three years of technical and personal education. Previously, he served in leadership roles at the Kansas City Zoologial Gardens, Zoo Atlanta, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens and at the Stanley M. Rowe Arboretum.

He has taught courses at Delaware County Community College as a Continuing Education instructor for over a decade, has published nearly 100 articles in a nationally recognized popular and professional horticulture magazines and published a collegiate textbook entitled Horticulture Management & Supervision. Donald resides with his beloved wife in Brookhaven, PA.


The FOWP Board of Stewards is comprised of civic, legal, business, nonprofit, education, financial, and horticultural leaders. Each board member serves a one-year term, and elections occur at the FOWP Annual Meeting in November.

Melissa Russell-Payne, President

Vice President, Bank of America

Melissa Russell-Payne is a Vice President at Bank of America and serves on the Vendor Engagement Strategy & Solutions team within Consumer Lending. Melissa proudly serves as Mid East Regional Leader and Executive Council Member of the Delaware Chapter of LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Development) for Women at Bank of America and has coached Girls on the Run. Additionally, Melissa completed a fellowship with the Leadership Delaware, Inc. Program in 2011, and served as a member of the inaugural Alumni Advisory Board. Melissa resides in Trolley Square with her husband and enjoys visiting the parks with her dog.

Dave Jezyk, Vice President

Supervisor of Special Education, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District

David Jezyk began volunteering with FOWP’s Native Habitat Restoration group in 2014. He now leads that effort with Co-Vice President Denis O’Sullivan. Dave has local roots with 12 years at St. Elizabeth’s School. He also graduated from the University of Delaware and Wilmington University. Dave and his partner Jon share their appreciation for native habitat landscaping by planting and maintaining the center island in front of their Lovering Avenue home in collaboration with the Delaware Center for Horticulture. Dave is a former board member of Sojourner’s Place Homeless Shelter and he has a long career in public education. When he is not out in his yard, he can be seen running through our beautiful local parks or earning his sweat at the Y.

Denis P. O’Sullivan, Vice President

President, Bruce Realty Co., Inc.

David Sorber, Treasurer

David Sorber is a lifelong resident of the Wilmington area. A graduate of St. Edmonds Academy, Salesianum School, and the University of Delaware, he has been a member of the Friends board since 2000. He was a banker in Wilmington for 46 years and retired in 2020. He and his wife Marie live in the Delaware Avenue neighborhood near Brandywine Park. He and his dog Max are daily park walkers.

Blair Tkacz, Secretary

Vice President, Bank of America

Blair is a Vice President at Bank of America and serves on the Consumer Privacy and Data Management organization. Blair resides in Trolley Square.  In her spare time she likes to spend time with family and friends, traveling and enjoys the outdoors with her dog.

Andy Croce


Grant Dick

Cooch and Taylor, P.A.

Jill Karlson

Director of Public Engagement
Delaware Museum of Natural History

Lauren Donnelly McMahon

Event & Rentals Manager
Delaware Art Museum

Ellen Muenter

Docent, Brandywine Zoo and Delaware Museum of Natural History

Ed Pankowski

Attorney, City of Wilmington, Delaware Law Department


Pamela Price

Senior Government
Relations Representative
Highmark Delaware

Joseph Scharf

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division

Joseph Valdrini

Senior Vice President
Merrill Lynch, Inc.


Gary Linarducci
Joseph P. Melloy, Sr.
June Peterson
Michael A. Porro
Charles F. Richards, Jr.
Lisa A. Schmidt

Park Historian and Author

Susan Mulchahey Chase, Ph.D


Learn more about our community!