BREC’s board of commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to name Carolyn McKnight-Bray, of Dallas, as its new superintendent.

McKnight-Bray will leave her job as the executive general manager of business development and procurement services for the city of Dallas.

But she said she has spent most of her professional life working for the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, and is excited to return to that line of work, which she said is her passion.

“I’m elated that I’ll have the opportunity to serve the community, that I’ll have the opportunity to get back to doing my passion, which is parks and recreation,” she said. “I’m excited about the possibility about leading the organization into the future and making sure we’re going to deliver the quality of service that people expect.”

McKnight-Bray will take the top spot of overseeing the East Baton Rouge Parish park system, replacing Bill Palmer, who has worked for BREC for 33 years. Palmer’s last day is Jan. 28, he said.

McKnight-Bray’s salary and start date will be negotiated, but BREC board Chairman Bill Benedetto said he expects some overlap between her start and Palmer’s departure.

McKnight-Bray was an assistant director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department from 1988 until 2009, where she was responsible for managing $16 million of the department’s $77 million operating budget and managed a staff of 228 full-time employees and 102 seasonal employees, according to her résumé.

She said she was responsible for 194 neighborhood, community and regional parks, 133 athletic fields and various other facilities.

As BRECs superintendent, she will lead a full-time staff of 434 and a part-time staff of between 680 and 800.

The board of commissioners chose between McKnight-Bray and the other finalist Stuart Johnson on Thursday.

Johnson is an assistant secretary at the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and is in charge of the Louisiana Office of State Parks.

The initial vote to hire McKnight-Bray came in at 5-4, with commissioners Benedetto, Bert Neal, Kenneth Riche and David Guillory dissenting.

Verge Ausberry Jr., Audrey Nabors-Jackson, Carlos Sam, Craig Freeman and Larry Selders supported McKnight-Bray.

However, after the first vote, the board opted to take a second vote to make the official record reflect unanimous support.

“We had two extremely fine candidates, and it was a very difficult process to determine which candidate would be best,” Benedetto said. “I look forward to working with Ms. Bray and I support her 100 percent.”