Director of Florence’s Look Park moves on

  • Jillian Larkin, the interim executive director of Look Park in Florence, speaks with the Gazette in the park office on Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jilian Larkin, the interim executive director of Look Park, chats Tuesday with ranger George Leonard at the entry booth to the park in Florence. STAFF PHOTOS/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park covers more than 150 acres.

Staff Writer 
Published: 9/3/2019 10:13:17 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Late summer has brought leadership changes to Look Park in Florence.

Shawn Porter, executive director of Look Park since 2013, left Aug. 4 to be the assistant director of Wickham Park in Manchester, Connecticut.

“It’s probably the only place in the world I’d leave Look Park to go to. I love Look Park,” Porter said. Like the Florence park, Wickham Park is a privately owned nonprofit. But, he said, “It’s based more on a natural environment.” He anticipated the job would entail more time working outside and “a lot less office time.” 

His new schedule includes less time working on weekends and is better for raising a family, he said. Porter is also originally from southern Connecticut and the job is closer to friends and family there. 

In Porter’s time at Look Park, he embarked on capital projects including renovations to Pines Theater and the fountain at the park’s entrance. 

“He led us in a great direction … He did a lot in six years,” said Jilian Larkin, the park’s interim executive director, who was previously the gardening house and wedding director at the park. The renovations Porter led at the theater, she said, have helped the park host more concerts this summer. 

Look Park’s board of trustees will hire a new executive director, but members do not have a specific timeline right now, said Sharianne Walker, the chairperson of the board.

“When Shawn left, it was kind of midseason for us,” Walker said. “As we move forward with our next steps, it would be at a time when park professionals are usually available,” she said adding that many searches for similar positions happen in winter. But, Walker said, “I’m not sure exactly how things will play out.”

Feeling confident in Larkin’s leadership as interim executive director, Walker said, the board is taking its time.

Larkin, who has worked at the park since 2005, is interested in the position.

“I want to step up,” she said. “It’s a wonderful, beautiful park. I know a lot about it.”

In her interim role, Larkin has been introducing herself to parkgoers and staff — often while walking in the park with her golden retriever puppy, Ringo, who she said is a conversation starter.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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Northampton, MA 01061


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