Pocketparks is a non-profit organization that reimagines and redevelops unused plots of land to provide communities with active and beautiful recreational areas. Through community engagement, each park is designed to meet the specific needs of the neighborhood in which it is located. Every park incorporates three things: activity, artwork, and opportunity. Pocketparks are small, but make a big impact. By focusing on small outdoor parks, we can quickly provide positive impact without extensive resources. Pocketparks not only offers beautiful recreational areas, but works to increase safety, boost community pride, and contribute to economic development. Pocketparks is a platform that reactivates outdoor areas to build up the ecosystem of communities and weave vibrant spaces into our urban fabric.
Established in St. Louis in 2021, Pocketparks is working to activate local communities and plans to grow into a network of parks that sprawl across the city and eventually expand to other cities and states. As a non-profit organization, Pocketparks relies on donations to support its efforts.
“To me, this isn’t as much of a parks project as it is about activating the streets for a more vibrant, dense, urban fabric. Using a human-centric approach, we can elevate the urban experience to one that is safe, beautiful, active, and diverse. We are creating a platform using parks to reactivate the streets and build up the ecosystem of our city.”
- Samantha Lee Smugala, President & Founder
Our process starts with identifying opportunities and engaging the community. All projects are community driven to assure we are creating positive change. We translate feedback into a relevant park design. After construction, we launch the new pocket park as a fully activated space, and continue to maintain the park for the foreseeable future.
Design & Construction
Launch & Activation
Samantha Lee Smugala
President & Founder
Samantha has a diverse background in marketing, design, and strategy. Her career has led her to work for both small and large firms, with projects ranging from logo design to go-to-market strategies. Samantha has worked across industries in education, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment, and manufacturing.
Samantha’s mission with Pocketparks is to activate and beautify city streets by reimagining and redeveloping underutilized plots into beautiful recreational areas for the community.
Sarah Arnoksy Ko
Sarah Arnosky Ko is a vice president at Greater St. Louis, Inc., an economic development organization committed to driving economic growth and creating opportunities for all in the St. Louis region. In her role, Sarah leads implementation of key initiatives that promote, activate and enhance the built environment. In her spare time, Sarah can be found playing roller derby, working on house projects, and trying new St. Louis restaurants.
Katie is financial analyst at Fleshman Hillard. Her focus is business valuations, data analysis, forensic support in fraud, and forensic engagements. As an involved community member, Katie also serves as the President of the St. Louis Startup Ambassadors and the Treasurer of Epworth Children and Family Services. Katie's personal interests have lead her to be an active community member and patron to local restaurants, sporting events, concerts, and more. While committed to bettering St. Louis, Katie also enjoys international travel and exploring new countries, cities, and cultures.
Maxine Clark is the Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a teddy-bear themed retail-entertainment experience. In 2013, Maxine stepped down from her CEB (Chief Executive Bear) position to start her next act-- to help unleash the potential of women and minority entrepreneurs and to use her entrepreneurial skills to create platforms and places that give access to more St. Louis families. Her latest venture is the Delmar DivINe™—the transformation of a neighborhood eyesore, the historic St. Luke’s Hospital, into a multi-use real estate development opened in late 2021.
Maxine is a Founding Managing Director of Prosper Women’s Capital, the Board of Advisors of Lewis and Clark Ventures and an advisor to the TxO Fund. Maxine is a member of the Build-A-Bear Workshop Board of Directors and a recent past member of Footlocker, Inc. Board of Directors. Maxine is also an Emeritus member of the Washington University Board of Trustees and a board member of, Barnes Jewish Hospital, Goldfarb School of Nursing, New America, and PBS national Nine PBS boards. In 2017 Maxine was named to the Missouri Public Affairs Hall of Fame and in 2015 was named Women of the Year by the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation.
Amanda Auer is the Senior Vice President of Development at Green Street Real Estate Ventures. After 16 years of experience, Amanda has a deep technical and legal understanding of the real estate development process and plays a vital role on the most financially complex projects. Amanda is a licensed attorney and received a Corporate Counsel Award from the St. Louis Business Journal in 2018 and was featured in Vanguard Law Magazine in 2016. Amanda holds a Juris Doctorate from St. Louis University School of Law (2007) and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Missouri, Columbia (2003). Amanda is a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves as a board member and participates on the tax credit working group for the Missouri Growth Association.
Design / Social Media
Community Engagement / Events
Design / Park Lead
Newsletters / Events
Alternative Life Guide LLC
Crawford Taylor Foundation
Thomas & Sally Cohn
The Ellenwood Fund
Bob and Deborah Dolgin
Peggy and Randy Haukap
Sarah Arnosky Ko
Seneca CRE, LLC
Larry & Tonnie Smith
Samantha Lee Smugala
TAO + LEE Associates, Inc
Kathy Van Voorhees
Bonnie W Wade
Donna and Brian Ward