Veteran services

Former parks director prepares to retire after 52 years at city hall

San Mateo native Sheila Canzian has worked for her hometown since 1970, a 52-year career at City Hall that spanned many civic achievements in her longtime role as director of parks and recreation for the city.

Canzian, who has had an influential and award-winning career with the city of San Mateo and is one of the city’s longest-serving employees, is set to retire.

She has been instrumental in managing San Mateo’s well-known recreation programs, facilities and amenities, some of her proudest accomplishments being the creation of the city’s coastal parks along the waterfront, co-founding of the non-profit Police Activities League, the reconstruction of the Poplar Creek Golf Course and the establishment of the Senior Center.


Additionally, Canzian led the city’s Central Park Master Plan Update and brought a seasonal ice rink to Central Park. She also created an education assistance program to support school children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His department manages the city’s 35 parks, six recreation and community centers, the Marina Lagoon, Poplar Creek Golf Course, and nearly 23,000 city trees.

“I’ve been lucky enough to work with a great team and amazing managers over the years,” Canzian said. “I have loved working in San Mateo, it is my community and it is heartwarming to walk around the parks and see so many children and families enjoying what our department has to offer. Parks bring the community together , whether at special events such as the Summer Concerts in the Park and Winter Wonderland series, or for family gatherings such as celebrating birthdays and reunions.”

“Sheila has made immeasurable contributions to the San Mateo community and is an icon in her profession,” said City Manager Drew Corbett. “Our parks and recreation facilities are loved by so many and greatly enhance the quality of life here in San Mateo. Our organization has benefited immensely from his unwavering leadership, wealth of experience, and the remarkable number of years that she spent serving the public.”

Canzian’s family is no stranger to his working association with San Mateo. She is a second-generation city worker, her father once served as a firefighter for San Mateo during World War II.

Canzian began her work with the city while in college, volunteering in Central Park in 1969 before being hired the following year as a summer playground manager. Over the years, she rose through the ranks, holding positions of senior supervisor, section head and

director of community services, before being named director of parks and recreation in 1990.

“I was born and raised in San Mateo and have spent summers in the yard at our local school. Growing up I have always had so much fun visiting and working in our parks for the past 50 years a been the best career I could have wished for,” Canzian said.

Canzian is expected to retire on June 9. His replacement will be named shortly, city officials said.

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Copyright © 2022 by Bay City News, Inc. Republication, redistribution, or other reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.