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Illinois Park & Recreation Magazine - People and Places

Addison Park District Announces Staff Promotion and New Hires

Lisa Jeffers is the new Executive Administrative Assistant and a former long-time Addison resident. She has a diverse background in banking, finance and executive administration roles. Prior to working for the Park District, Lisa was the Executive Administrative Assistant at Pampered Chef in Addison. She has taken many programs from the Park District and has been a member of Club Fitness for several years. Lisa’s work ethic and customer service-focused attitude make her a valuable asset for the District.  


Adam Vasquez is the Athletic & Rental Supervisor for Addison Park District. Adam’s role includes supervising youth athletic programs, special events and facility rentals of all types for both recreation centers. He has an extensive background in program management and was most recently a Recreation Supervisor for Wood Dale Park District. Adam also worked for the Libertyville Sports Complex and the Normal Parks & Recreation Department, while attending (ISU) Illinois State University. He graduated with a degree in Recreation and Park Administration from ISU. 


Geri Estvanik is a dedicated employee of the Addison Park District having served the community for more than 26 years. Her previous roles as Recreation Supervisor, Active Adult Services Manager and Development & Community Relations Manager demonstrate her dedication to the field and have helped her prepare for her new role as Director of Operations. Geri is responsible for obtaining 3 IDNR Youth Conservation grants, 2 OSLAD grants and a PARC grant totaling more than $3 million in revenue for the District. As Director of Operations, Geri may represent the Executive Director when required, leads and directs management and administrative functions including special events, volunteer program, community relations, education and training, fundraising, communications and marketing. 


Geneva Park District Honors Two Long Time Board Members

The Geneva Park District Board and staff recognized Park Board President Susan VanderVeen and Park Board Vice President Peggy Condon for 15 years of commitment to the Geneva Park District and community at the Park Board meeting, Monday, October 20, 2014.     "It does not feel like 15 years!  "I have enjoyed serving on the Park Board and look forward to the future, said Susan VanderVeen.    "It has been a pleasure and an honor serving on the Board,” said Peggy Condon.   According to Nicole Vickers, superintendent of recreation, 15 years equates to over 750 hours of unpaid time in the quest to continually elevate the community!  "That is over 30 days; over 45,000 minutes, over 2.7 million seconds, however, for the staff, your time, dedication, wisdom, and energy is immeasurable!” said Vickers.   "Susan and Peggy have been steadfast in their support of parks, recreation, open space and conservation. It is my good fortune to work with such dedicated community leaders,” said Sheavoun Lambillotte, executive director of the Geneva Park District.


Pekin Park District Announces the Retirement of Bob Blackwell

After 36 years of devoted service, Bob Blackwell has retired from the Pekin Park District. From 1978 to 1983, he served in various capacities as arena and pool manager, special facilities manager, and superintendent of recreation and facilities manager. From 1983 to 2014, Bob worked as the executive director where he made great strides in meeting the needs of a growing community by providing valuable recreational programs, facilities and open space that have enhanced the quality of life for residents of all age groups and abilities.

Under Bob’s leadership and guidance, the Pekin Park District was expanded to include the development of Dragonland Water Park, Coal Miners Park and, most recently, the new 80-acre Pekin Park Sports Complex. In 2003 and 2012, he sought to protect the McNaughton, Dirksen and Independence parks. Bob will be remembered as a dedicated professional who built a district with his vision and leadership.


Lindenhurst Park District Announces the Retirement of Tom Lippert

Tom has served as the executive director since 1992. Prior to that, he served as director of parks & recreation, superintendent of recreation, and superintendent of parks, in Niles (twice), Deerfield, Skokie, and Hickory Hills Park Districts; spanning 38 years. Lindenhurst Park District, established in 1988 and one of the youngest park districts in the state, started with a few inherited Village parks and no facilities. During Tom’s tenure in Lindenhurst he increased parks with many different recreational amenities by 75%, added a variety of facilities, including a 26,000 sq. ft. phased Community Center – without referendum, under a tax cap, and limited EAV. Tom was able to do this by securing over $7 million dollars in grants, several million in impact fees from residential developers, large community support and intergovernmental cooperation. Lindenhurst Park District was one of the fastest growing Park Districts in Lake County, Illinois during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, under Tom’s leadership. Tom was active early on with IPRA and MIPE, serving on various committees, including Director of the PNRM Section and President of MIPE. Tom also received MIPE’s Professional of the Year Award.


Golf Maine Park District Welcomes John Jekot as Their New Director

John has over 16 years of parks and recreation experience along with 7 years of working in a corporate environment. He come to the Golf Maine Park District from St. John Brebeuf as there event coordinator and also held a similar position at St. Michael in Old Town. John was also the superintendent of recreation for the Lindenhurst Park District, athletic and facility supervisor for the Niles Park District, where he was promoted to assistant superintendent of recreation. John also spent time with the Forest Preserve of Cook County and was the assistant manager at Brunswick Zone-River Grove. He also was sales manager for Awards International.

John earned a bachelor’s degree in leisure studies from Northeastern Illinois University. He is also a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional and attended Revenue Sources Management School at Oglebay Park/Wilson Lodge along with Executive Development School at Indiana University. John also serves the Village of Niles as a Trustee. Prior to being a Village Trustee, John served 14 years as a member of the East Maine School District Board of Education. John is currently the president of the Optimist Club of Niles, a position he has held for many years.


Community Park District of La Grange Park Welcomes Aleks Briedis as Executive Director

After working extensively with the Illinois Association of Park Districts, the Board of Commissioners of the Community Park District of La Grange Park has hired Aleks Briedis to serve as its next executive director. He will begin employment in early January 2015. Aleks has more than 14 years of experience in parks and recreation. He served as the recreation director for the City of Rifle, Colorado for 14 years and most recently as the director of community recreation for the Batavia Park District for six months.

Aleks holds a bachelor’s degree in leisure studies from the University of Illinois. During his tenure at Rifle, he was instrumental in formulating visionary concepts and creating successful and fiscally vibrant projects for the community.With his diverse experience Aleks is eager to lead the Community Park District of La Grange Park.


Pekin Park District Names Cameron Bettin as Executive Director

After conducting a search with the Illinois Association of Park Districts, the Pekin Park District has hired Cameron Bettin as its next executive director. Cameron began employment on December 8th.

With more than 25 years of experience in the park and recreation field, he worked nearly 10 of those years at the Plainfield Park District. He also held positions with the Wheaton and Waukegan Park Districts. In 2013, Cameron received the Professional of the Year Award for Parks and Natural Resource Management.

He holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Ball State University and a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University. Cameron has attended the NRPA Directors School as well as Indiana University’s executive development program.


Roy Cripe Retires from the Community Park District of La Grange Park

Roy Cripe, began his retirement on January 1st after serving six and a half years as Executive Director for the Community Park District of La Grange Park. Prior to La Grange Park, Roy served as executive director for the Darien, Lisle, Oak Brook and Burr Ridge Park Districts. His career started in 1973 as a recreation supervisor for the Downers Grove Park District. He also served as the superintendent of recreation for the Westmont Park District.

Roy said that he is grateful and very lucky to have met and worked with wonderfully dedicated colleagues, visionary Board members and especially supportive residents while positive initiatives were being accomplished. He wishes all who promote the parks and recreation movement continued success as the lives of constituents are enriched through quality programs and services.


Buffalo Grove Park District Names Ryan Risinger as New Executive Director

Ryan Risinger has been named the executive director for the Buffalo Grove Park District. Prior to his promotion, Ryan was the deputy director. Ryan has been with Buffalo Grove since 1992 where he previously held positions of recreation supervisor, superintendent of recreation and director of recreation and facilities.

Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in parks and recreation from Illinois State University, and will earn his master’s degree in public administration from Villanova in the summer of 2015. Ryan has attended Indiana’s Executive Development program, North Carolina State’s School of Sports Management at Oglebay, Disney Institute’s Keys to Success and Customer Loyalty programs and he is a Certified Park and Recreation Executive. Ryan is also a member of the Rotary Club of Buffalo Grove.


Bill Heider Promoted to Director of Recreation and Facilities for Buffalo Grove Park District

Bill came to the Buffalo Grove Park District almost five years ago to head up the parks department. Bill has over 30 years of government service in both municipal and park districts. Bill earned his MBA from Dominican University and has received his Certified Parks and Recreation Professional certification. Bill looks forward to the new challenges of this position and hopes to be an asset to the park district.




The Buffalo Grove Park District  Named Tim Howe as the New Director of Parks and Risk Management.  

Howe joined the Buffalo Grove Park District in August of 2013 where he started as the supervisor of park operations.  Before Buffalo Grove, Tim worked at the Streamwood Park District as the park manager from 2008 through August of 2013.  He also worked at the Village of Brookfield, Addison Park District and the Kane County Cougars.  He obtained his master’s degree in Organizational Leadership in May of 2012 from Lewis University.  In 2013, he was named the Parks and Natural Resource Management Section "Rising Star” and currently serves on the Illinois Sports Turf Management board.  

Robert O’Shaughnessy Named as Worth Park District’s New Director of Parks and Recreation

Robert graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a B.S. in recreation administration. At Eastern, Robert was active with the recreation club and was the IPRA Student Section Director his senior year. Robert was presented with the William G. Riordan Award in recognition of being the outstanding student in the department.

Robert’s experience spans over 25 years. He has worked at all levels with the Morton Grove, Havana, and Dixon Park Districts and the Munster (Indiana) Parks and Recreation Department. Robert also worked for the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA), and considers that one of the most rewarding experiences in his career.

Robert has developed and managed quality and profitable programs and services.

He has written and secured various grants in the millions of dollars; and has supervised and overseen park development projects and renovations. Robert also experienced government from the "citizen side of the fence,” having served once as a city Alderman. Robert was also the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award by the Department of Parks and Recreation Administration, Eastern Illinois University.


Glenview Park District Announces the Retirement of Executive Director Chuck Balling

After more than 40 years of serving in the parks and recreation field in several Illinois communities, Glenview Park District Executive Director Chuck Balling has announced his plan to retire in spring 2015. His decision comes at a time when the District enjoys a strong financial position, its facilities are up to date, and it is about to finalize the 2014-2018 strategic plan, which will set the direction for the next three years and help facilitate a smooth transition.
Balling became Executive Director of the Glenview Park District nine years ago, bringing extensive experience in managing parks and recreation programs in Naperville, Homewood-Flossmoor, Elmhurst and Gurnee.
In 2008, The Glenview Park District was a National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Finalist. During his tenure Balling oversaw the updating of many district facilities, championed the district’s environmental and historical initiatives and worked diligently to promote team building and intergovernmental cooperation. Balling is an active leader who enjoys participating in local organizations and is a fervent believer in giving back to the community. Over the years, both the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and the National Recreation and Park Association have recognized him with many awards for his contributions to his profession.

The Village of Lake In The Hills Selects Laura Barron as Director of Parks and Recreation
Serving as the Parks and Recreation Department head for the village, Laura will provide administrative direction and oversight of the diverse programming, parks, recreational areas and facilities the village offers to its approximately 30,000 residents which includes 31 parks, 2 beaches and numerous recreational facilities.
She previously served as the Executive Director at the Oakbrook Terrace Park District for 7 years and the Superintendent of Recreation at the Lisle Park District for 7 years. Laura has also worked at the Naperville, Glen Ellyn and Streamwood Park Districts in various supervisory positions.
Laura holds a master’s degree in recreation administration from Aurora University – George Williams College, a bachelor’s degree in recreation and parks administration from Western Illinois University and an associate’s degree in recreational leadership from College of DuPage. She is a Certified Park and Recreation Professional and has served as a trustee on the NEDSRA Board, chairperson and member of the Board of Regents of Professional Development School, and as chair of Joint Editorial Committee.
As a resident of West Chicago, Laura serves on the City of West Chicago Environmental Commission and is a member of the West Chicago Garden Club.

Lori Berkes-Nelson Joins the Rockford Park District as Foundation Director
Lori was raised in DeKalb, but has been a resident of the Rockford region for over 25 years. She received her Masters of Science in education and a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Northern Illinois University.
Lori has over 20 years of non-profit management experience, and has devoted her professional life to non-profit viability through successful leadership, fundraising and marketing. She came to Rockford in 1987 to work for Rosecrance for 15 years her greatest accomplishment was the development of the first Adolescent Recovery Home for girls in the state of Illinois called the Monarch House.
She also served as the executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation for 11 years. Under her leadership, the organization expanded to recognize excellence throughout Winnebago and Boone County, and she increased donor and volunteer participation significantly during her tenure.

Lori was named Woman Manager of the Year by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce in 2007. Additionally, she has served on several community, state and national task forces and boards including her role as the President of Econ Illinois, a statewide, non-profit organization and the premier provider of economic education programs for Illinois schools.

 Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District Announces Calvin Clothier as New Recreation Supervisor
Calvin Clothier, CPRP has become the new Recreation Supervisor for the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District. Clothier comes to Rochelle after completing 2 years at the Oregon Park District as the Athletics Assistant. He earned his CPRP in the spring of 2014. Clothier is a 2012 University of Iowa graduate with a bachelor of arts in Recreational Management. He also worked for the Coralville Recreation Center as a Recreation Associate while attending the University of Iowa.
Cary Park District Names Sarah Welsh as New Program Manager.

Sarah Welsh, Cary Park District, New Hire – Program Manager responsible for youth, adult, dance, and day camp programs for the district. Sarah is a 2013 Western Illinois University graduate with a recreation, park & tourism administration degree and a minor in natural resources conservation. While in school she was a recreation intern at Roselle Park District and following graduation, she was employed at Streamwood Park District as a building attendant and registration clerk.


Hanover Park Park District Hires Liz Blake as New Recreation Supervisor
Liz Blake worked her way through the aquatic ranks at the Oak Brook Park District from lifeguard to assistant manager between 2005-09. In 2009/10, she was a supervisor for the YWCA in East Peoria. Liz accepted a second grade teaching position at the Delphi Academy of Chicago in Lombard from 2011-13. In 2013, she was named the facility coordinator for the Hanover Park Park District Seafari Springs Aquatic Center.


Geneva Park District Announces New Staff

Elliott Bortner is the new recreation supervisor for the Geneva Park District. His responsibilities include toddler, youth, family, adult and active older adult program areas. He is also responsible for the District’s special events and Cultural Art programs, held at Playhouse 38. Elliott joined GPD in September 2013 as the recreation coordinator. He previously worked for the Champaign Park District as the special events and volunteer coordinator.


Becky Densmore is the new Recreation Coordinator for the Geneva Park District. Her responsibilities include Kids’ Zone Before & After School Program, Summer Camps, teen programs, and birthday parties. Becky previously worked for All Star Sports Instruction as a head coach and joined GPD in August 2014. She completed her parks and recreation administration degree at George Williams College in Williams Bay, WI.


Kelly Wales is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, (CPRP) who joined the Geneva Park District as a recreation supervisor. She oversees the Kids’ Zone, KinderZone Before & After School Program, preschool, summer camps, day-off trips, teen programs, Birthday Parties and some special events. She previously worked at the Plainfield Park District.


St. Charles Park District Welcomes New Staff


Joshua Williams is the new Pottawatomie Community Center supervisor. Responsibilities include overseeing program registration, rentals, front desk operations, recreation programming and special event planning. He recently completed an internship with the Downers Grove Park District. Joshua is a recent graduate of Illinois College with a double major in management & organizational leadership and communication & rhetorical studies.


Cathy Medema is the new superintendent of finance and administration. She is responsible for the district’s business, human resources and IT departments. Previously, Cathy was employed as director of finance and human resources at Elmhurst Park District for 16 years and prior to that she worked as an accountant in the private sector. She is a graduate from Dominican University with a major in accounting and Benedictine University with a MBA in finance.


Laura Johns is the new Primrose Farm Educator & Lead Interpreter for the district. She is developing new and diverse program options, facilitating visitor engagement, assisting with staff and volunteer management, expanding the farm's web presence, and supporting daily farm museum operations by learning to drive tractors and milk cows. She is also spearheading several long-term projects. Laura received a BA in history and political science from Albion College and a MA in public history from Loyola University Chicago


Rosie Fasching, a recent graduate from Illinois State University with a double major in Recreation & Parks Administration and Management & Quantitative Methods, has been hired as a recreation supervisor responsible for Otter Cove Aquatic Park, youth programming and special events. Her experience includes internships with Glenview and Arlington Heights Park Districts. She is also certified with Ellis & Associates lifeguard training.

The Glenview Park District recently hired Sarah Lagesse as the new Aquatics Supervisor
Lagesse comes to the park district with a wealth of experience in aquatic operations from her work at the Elmhurst Park District where she was the Program Manager of Facilities. In her new position, Lagesse will be responsible for overseeing and managing Flick and Roosevelt Outdoor Aquatic Centers and assisting with operations at Splash Landings. She will also oversee aquatic staff training and certification. "Sarah’s knowledge, drive and leadership are a great asset to the GPD Aquatics Department,” said Amy Watson, Assistant Director of Recreation and Aquatic Services. Lagesse is a graduate of Lewis University. She is also certified as a lifeguard, an instructor trainer with StarFish Aquatics and has also worked as an instructor trainer for the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago.

Glenview Park District Names Alison Reicher as the new Customer Service and Rental Supervisor

The Glenview Park District recently promoted Alison Reicher to customer service and rental supervisor at Park Center (2400 Chestnut Avenue). Reicher has worked in many capacities for the park district since 2005. She was a lifeguard at Roosevelt Pool, administrative assistant in the Aquatics department and most recently, a customer service representative.
In her new position, Reicher is responsible for overseeing front desk operations, customer service and registrations at Park Center along with rentals within Park Center and at Schram Memorial Chapel. "She will be coming into this position with a strong background in the districts policies and procedures, amazing customer interactions, and the ability to create new efficiencies within the Park Center operation,” said Amy Watson, assistant director of recreation and aquatics.
Reicher is a graduate of The University of Iowa with a bachelor’s in Psychology, Human Relations and Dance. She also graduated from National Louis University this past June with a master’s in School Counseling.

New Early Childhood & Youth Program Manager Joins the Elmhurst Park District

The Elmhurst Park District is pleased to announce the addition of Julie Rushmeyer to the recreation department. Julie will take over as program manager for early childhood & youth, with a focus on developing and overseeing programs and recreational experiences for this age group.

Julie brings a breadth of experience in creating and supervising early childhood and youth programs, as she previously served as program manager for early childhood, preschool, and special recreation at Lindenhurst Park District, as well as at Lan-Oak Park District. Julie holds a Master of Science in Recreation Administration from Aurora University in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science Education (with a concentration in secondary and early childhood education) from Illinois State University.

Schaumburg Park District Announces New Hires

Derek Dvorak
has been named athletics supervisor at the Schaumburg Park District. Dvorak previously worked for the Lombard Park District as the athletic program manager for five years. Derek was the athletics coordinator for the Urbana Park District from 2007 to 2009. A 2006 graduate of the University of Illinois, Dvorak earned his Master of Science degree in sports management and a Bachelor of Science in marketing in 2005.

The Schaumburg Park District would like to welcome Teresa Varco as the new early childhood supervisor. In 1999, Teresa began as a preschool teacher at the Park Ridge Park District. She then became the supervisor for preschool and early childhood in 2007. A 2003 graduate of Northeastern University, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood. Teresa currently resides in Des Plaines.

Kathleen Benson
has been appointed as the Bock Neighborhood Center manager for the Schaumburg Park District. Benson joined the Glenview Park District in 2008 as the recreation supervisor after graduating from the University of Illinois in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in recreation, sport and tourism. In 2012, Kathleen moved to the Arlington Heights Park District as the assistant golf operations supervisor. Kathleen lives in Elgin.

Mike Wold
has become the Sport Center assistant manager for the Schaumburg Park District after serving as athletics
supervisor since 2013. An Illinois State University graduate of 2006, Wold joined the Hanover Park Park District as the athletics supervisor after completing his Bachelor of Science degree in park and recreation administration. In 2008, Mike moved to the Itasca Park District as the athletics supervisor. Mike currently lives in Pingree Grove.

Glenview Park District Names Brian Montgomery as Manager of Program Services at the Glenview Ice Center

The Glenview Park District recently hired Brian Montgomery as the new Manager of Program Services at the Glenview Ice Center. Montgomery is a graduate of The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor of science in recreation, sport and tourism with a concentration in recreation management and a minor in philosophy. He completed his internship with the Glenview Park District and went on to gain valuable experience at the Mt. Prospect and Veterans Park Districts.
In his new position, he will be responsible for all Ice Center programs and special events and will oversee the figure skating director, hockey director and customer service positions, as well as general operations positions. "I am looking forward to his youthful exuberance, his creativity with programming and his warm personality in customer service,” said Jim Weides, Ice Center General Manager.

Zion Park District Names Eric Bradley as New Superintendent of Administrative Services
Eric Bradley comes to the Zion Park District with over ten years of experience in finance and accounting and has worked in both private industry and the public sector. Eric grew up in a near-by community of Wadsworth and spent much of his time enjoying the high quality recreational programs and facilities offered by the Zion Park District.
Eric received a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Illinois State University and earned his MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. He is also a licensed CPA.

The Carol Stream Park District Names Jim Rueter as New Executive Director

Jim Reuter, of Elgin, has been named the executive director for the Carol Stream Park District. Reuter is currently the director for the Village of South Elgin Parks and Recreation Department. He has served there since 1997. During his tenure, he led his department to state accreditation - the first municipal department ever to do so. He is also credited with securing $3.6 million in grants and overseeing multiple construction projects including restoration of shoreline and bike trails along the Fox River. In addition, Jim founded a supporting 501C3 foundation that raises funds and manages volunteers for the department.

Reuter has served on the boards of the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association and its foundation, the Fox River Ecosystem Partnership, and the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association. He is an active member of the National Recreation and Parks Association, the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association and Illinois Association of Park Districts.

Park board commissioners hired the Illinois Association of Park Districts to help launch a successful nationwide search for a new director.

The Zion Park District Announces the Retirement of Doug Congdon

Doug Congdon retired from the Zion Park District after completing 43 years of service. Doug began his career at the Zion Park District in May of 1971 at the age of 15. He completed his degree in Parks and Recreation at Western Illinois University in 1978. Doug was named leisure center director in 1980 and continued his service to the Zion Park District. In 1985, Doug was named superintendent of recreation. He completed his MBA in 1989 at Keller School of Management. In 2008, Doug was named superintendent of administrative services and served in that capacity up to his retirement. His dedication to the District and to the community of Zion is greatly appreciated.

St. Charles Park District Announces New Hires

The St. Charles Park District recently hired Meghan Jourden-Messerich as an Assistant Superintendent of Recreation to oversee Pottawatomie Community Center, Swanson Pool, Miniature Golf, and supervision of seven full-time professionals. Meghan previously worked at the Carol Stream Park District as Recreation Manager and has served the in Illinois Parks and Recreation agencies for nine years. She graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor's degree in Travel Tourism Recreation Management and a minor in Business Administration. She is also a certified Medic First Aid Instructor. In addition to being a member of the IPRA Facility Management Committee and IPRA Athletic Committee, Meghan has also been an IPRA Conference Speaker in both 2008 and 2012.

St. Charles Park District also welcomed Melissa Weaver as the new Aquatics, Dance Academy & Athletic Supervisor responsible for Swanson Swimming Pool operation and youth programming. Previously, Melissa was employed as a Recreation Supervisor with Decatur Park District. She is a graduate from Millikin University with a double major in Business Management and Accounting. Melissa has also been a high school Dance Team Coach, competed on the Millikin University Dance Team, and certified with Ellis & Associates lifeguard training.

The Des Plaines Park District Announces the Hiring of Katie Skibbe as the Superintendent of Business

Katie comes to Des Plaines with six years of experience as the assistant finance director for the Village of Buffalo Grove and three years of experience as the accounting manager of the Des Plaines Park District. She received her BS in accounting and her MBA from DePaul University, with a concentration in Real Estate Finance. Katie is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Katie’s responsibilities include managing the park district’s current comprehensive financial position and systems, investment strategy, and budget. She will serve as a member of the administrative leadership team in coordination with the executive director to assist in district-wide visioning; planning; policy and procedure development, including customer service initiatives; safety and risk management; human resources and marketing. She will also review the annual audit and capital improvement plan, and work on the Master Plan, Strategic Plan, and the Community Needs Assessment. Additionally, Katie will supervise a full-time staff of eight.

The DeKalb Park District Names Jason Mangum as New Executive Director

The DeKalb Park District is pleased to announce the appointment of Jason S. Mangum, as the district’s new executive
director. Jason is the former parks, recreation and cultural services director for the city of Novi, Michigan. During his employment in Novi, a city which served a residential base of 56,000, he was instrumental in developing or renovating several park properties, leading the department in strategic planning, and was recognized by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association as a leader in innovative recreation programming and marketing. He has presented on several topics, including "The Fun Factor: Connecting People through Play,” ”Unique Partnerships Creating Outdoor Teen Programming Utilizing Zero Agency Dollars,” and "Postcards from the Parks,” both regionally and nationally.

Prior to his tenure with the City of Novi, he was the parks and recreation director for the city of Show Low, Arizona. Jason is a graduate of Arizona State University with an MS in recreation & tourism studies and a BA in communications. He is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) from the National Recreation and Parks Association. Jason has served as a faculty associate at Arizona State University, where he taught several parks and recreation courses. He has also been published in the Arizona Parks and Recreation Magazine.

Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA) Announces Staff Promotion and New Hires

Alex (Redenius) Engelhardt, CTRS, MBA has been promoted to position of superintendent of recreation. Alex started with FVSRA as a therapeutic recreation intern in 2006. She has advanced through the organization from therapeutic recreation specialist, support staff coordinator and support staff manager positions. Alex received her BA in leisure, youth and human services with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation from the University of Northern Iowa and completed her MBA with a focus on human resource management from Aurora University.

Ryan Tychsen has been hired as the marketing and design coordinator. Ryan is a graduate from the Illinois Institute of Art - Schaumburg receiving a BA while majoring in interactive media design. He has worked for the past seven years at Feld Entertainment as their senior manager of digital media working on properties such as Monster Jam, Monster Energy Supercross, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Disney on Ice. Ryan joins FVSRA with a wide range of experiences including website content management and design, social media management, newsletter management and design, live event marketing and live streaming production.

Jackie Hart has been hired as a CTRS as support staff manager where she will oversee the full time athletics coordinator, part time program leaders and assistants as well as agency volunteers. Prior to arriving at FVSRA, Jackie served for five years at Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) in two different roles, athletics coordinator and support services supervisor. Jackie entered the recreation profession in 2009 after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Southern Illinois University and was selected as SIU’s Rising Star Young Professional in 2013.

West Chicago Park District Announces Two New Staff Members

Lily Garcia is the new marketing and public relations coordinator for the West Chicago Park District. She has over ten years
of experience in project management, marketing, event planning and sponsorship procurement. Lily has a background in journalism and a passion for outreach and public relations. Her parks and recreation career started with the Hanover Park Park District. She brings her knowledge and experience to the West Chicago Park District at the perfect time with the launch of a brand new recreation facility along with the advancement of the Park Foundation. Lily is a member of the IPRA Communications & Marketing section.

Brian Kaspar is the new facility manager for the West Chicago Park District. With a brand new recreation facility in the progress, his background in customer service, fitness and facility programming will be key in the planning and daily operations of the center. He has over fifteen years of experience and has previously worked for the Westchester Park District, the Gateway Special Recreation Association and the City of Palos Hills Resource and Recreation Department. Brian is a member of the IPRA Facility Managers Community Center and Fitness sections.

Batavia Park District Announces Two New Staff Members

The Batavia Park District is pleased to announce that Jennifer Bruggeman is the new human resources and risk manager.
In this position, Jen assists staff in finding confidence and increasing comfort in the district's changing environment. She helps staff develop and serve as leaders in their individual areas as well as encourages visionary thinking as a part of decision making.

Growing up in the Oswegoland area, she was pleased with all the opportunities that the park district offered to its patrons and staff. She previously worked at the Wheaton Park District in the recreation department for over 5 years, where she was given many leadership development opportunities, which set
her up for success in Batavia. Jen has a bachelor’s in recreation program management and commercial recreation from Illinois State University and a master’s in management and organizational behavior from Benedictine University.

The Batavia Park District welcomes Aleks Briedis as director of community recreation. In this new role, Aleks coaches a staff of 6 recreation supervisors to help deliver the highest quality of recreation programs. He builds and maintains relationships throughout the community by collaborating and communicating with individuals, groups and families.

Aleks previously worked as the recreation director for the city of Rifle, Colorado for more than 14 years. He received his bachelor of science in leisure studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. With his experience and passion, he looks forward to enhancing recreation programs, aquatics, facility rentals and special events.

The Urbana Park District Names Tim Bartlett as New Executive Director

Tim Bartlett will take over as Executive Director of the Urbana Park District in May. Tim is the associate director of the Urbana Park District and was recognized at the recent the Mid America Trails and Greenways (MATAG) Conference. Representing the trail interests of seven midwestern states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin—MATAG aims to tighten and strengthen the trail building community across America's heartland.

Tim received the Outstanding Advocate award from the State of Illinois for his work as a board member of the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation to coordinate the efforts of the Champaign County Forest Preserve and Vermilion County Conservation District to acquire the 24.5 mile CSX railroad line to serve as a bicycle/pedestrian trail between Urbana and Danville. As an adjunct faculty member in the department of landscape architecture at the University of Illinois, he facilitated class projects involving colleagues and students that use the corridor as a learning opportunity and that have resulted in communicating the wider benefits of acquiring and developing the former railroad right of way.

The Urbana Park District Announces the Retirement of Vicki Mayes

Vicki has served as the executive director of the district for 10 years. She has worked in the field of parks and recreation for more than 35 years. Under her leadership, the new Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center was developed and opened. A new efficient and environmentally sensitive planning and operations facility was constructed. Improvements were made in virtually all twenty of the district’s parks and its eight recreation facilities with a focus on citizen involvement in planning, sustainable design, creative playgrounds, natural areas and internal park walking trails.

During her tenure with the Urbana Park District, Vicki has led the district through the current strategic plan, projects leading to the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) Outstanding Park and Facility award for the Crystal Lake Park Family Aquatic Center and the Daniel L. Flaherty award for Park Excellence for Weaver Park from the Great Lakes Park Training Institute. The district also received a Certificate of Achievement of Excellence through the Illinois Joint Distinguished Accreditation program (IAPD/IPRA).

The Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) Names Jim Wiseman as New Executive Director

The Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) Board of Directors has selected Jim Wiseman as its new executive director, beginning June 2. Jim has served as superintendent of recreation for NISRA since 2008. From 2003-2008, Jim was superintendent of recreation for the Northwest Special Recreation Association, returning to the agency where he began his career years earlier as a program specialist. Throughout the 1990s and into 2003, Jim contributed his leadership & management skills to Special Olympics Wisconsin in the roles of director of sports management and director of training & volunteer services.

Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and is a graduate of Professional Development School. Jim has actively participated in both IPRA and the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association (WPRA). In the therapeutic recreation section of both organizations, he has served in multiple roles including section director, board member and committee chair. The WPRA therapeutic recreation section recognized him as Professional of the Year in 1998. Jim has been a leader in the Rolling Meadows Rotary Club and Crystal Lake Dawnbreakers Rotary Club, and is a NISRA representative to several mental health service organizations in McHenry County.

The Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA) Announces the Retirement of Brian Shahinian

Brian Shahinian will retire at the end of June. Brian joined the staff in 1987 as superintendent of recreation and became executive director in 1989. He previously worked for Maine-Niles and Northern Suburban special recreation agencies. Under Brian’s leadership, the association grew from seven to thirteen member districts, allowing hundreds of residents with disabilities to begin enjoying programs. NISRA and its staff were honored twice with the National Gold Medal award and have received numerous other awards. The NISRA Foundation was created and raised over $1 million to fund innovative projects.

Brian has inspired staff to "leave a legacy” and personally pioneered initiatives such as the Independent Angling Project (the Arthur G. Farley wheelchair-accessible fishing pier and pontoon boat, and annual fishing tournament in Wauconda), and the Pepper Family Accessible Treehouse (Illinois’ first of its kind) constructed in Barrington. NRPA, IPRA and IAPD honored both with awards. In 2009, Brian and the
NISRA Board secured permanent office space for the association. Brian spearheaded special recreation projects, worked toward passage of S.B. 1881, and is an ITRS Distinguished Service award recipient.

The Buffalo Grove Park District Announces the Retirement of Dan Schimmel

Dan has served as the Executive Director since 2010. Prior to that, he served as the department head for the recreation and facilities departments. Dan’s professional career spans 38 years, with valuable experiences gained from the St. Charles, Elmhurst, Glenview and Des Plaines Park Districts. He came to Buffalo Grove Park District after serving 5 years as the superintendent of recreation for the Hanover Park Park District.

Notable achievements during his 24 years at the Buffalo Grove Park District include starting the Clubhouse before and after school care program, serving on the management team for the construction of the Buffalo Grove Fitness Center and Buffalo Grove Golf and Sports Center facilities, assisting in the acquisition and development of the new Community Arts Center, and obtaining several grants for park and facility development, including the renovation of Willow Stream Pool, the Crossroads Exhibit at the Raupp Museum, the redevelopment of Kilmer Park, and two grants for the upcoming redevelopment of Willow Stream Park. Schimmel will continue to serve as executive director until December 2014, when the district’s deputy director, Ryan Risinger, will assume the position.

2014 Chairman of the IAPD Board of Trustees Joe Petry

Joe Petry will serve as the chairman of the IAPD Board of Trustees in 2014. Joe has been a commissioner of the Champaign Park District since 2003 and had served as president and vice-president. He is currently in his second six-year term on the board and is serving as president. He passionately seeks to promote open space and natural areas locally and statewide. In addition to his service to the Champaign Park District, he also served on the Champaign County Design and
Conservation Foundation Board. He helped found and volunteered with the Boneyard Creek Community Day effort.

Joe currently serves on IAPD’s Board Development committee, Executive committee, Nominating committee, Joint Coordinating Council and Research Advisory Council. He is a professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Champaign and received his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of Illinois. He succeeds Don Anderson of the Oak Lawn Park District.

2014 Chairman of the IPRA Board of Directors Jan Peterson Hincapie

Jan Peterson Hincapie will serve as the Chairman of the IPRA Board of Directors in 2014. A veteran of the parks and recreation field for over 30 years, she has been the director of parks and recreation for the Village of Lincolnwood since 2006.  During that time, Jan’s department has secured over $8 million dollars in grant money.  Under Jan’s leadership in Lincolnwood, the department has completed a community center feasibility study, comprehensive master plan, updated the strategic plan twice, received accreditation from the American Camping Association, became accredited as an Illinois Distinguished Agency and was the recipient of two "Best of the Best” Arts in the Park awards from Illinois Arts Council and IAPD.

Prior to coming to Lincolnwood Jan served as leisure services director for the Northbrook Park District, overseeing all recreation programs and communications.  She also served as recreation program manager for the Glenview Park District. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.  Jan served as IPRA’s first intern and has been involved with both the Wisconsin and Illinois associations during her career. She succeeds Allison Niemela, executive director of the Batavia Park District.

Lockport Township Announces New Staff

Jared Miller comes to Lockport Township Park District with over 8 years of recreation experience through tenures at the YMCA. Jared has been in Aquatics for over 13 years and has worked his way through various organizations improving operations and increasing revenue at facilities throughout Illinois. Jared received his bachelor's degree from Millikin University and his Masters Degree from the University of Illinois, Springfield.

Stevie Michell is a graduate of the University of St. Francis where she earned a bachelor of arts and sciences degree in
Recreation Sport and Tourism Management with a specialization in Public Administration. She has worked in various facets of recreation for the past 11 years and joins Lockport Township Park District from Riverside Parks and Recreation where she specialized in developing early childhood programming and youth development opportunities such as assisting in the development of a successful kindergarten enrichment program. Her role with Lockport Township Park District will include supervising the before/after-school program, teen programming and overseeing various special events.

The Medinah Park District is Pleased to Announce the Appointment of Kimberly Jay as Recreation Supervisor

She began her new position in July 2013 and is responsible for planning and implementing all youth, teen and adult programs.  Prior to this employment, Kimberly spent six years working as an Athletic/Recreation Supervisor in Addison and Worth Park Districts. 

Kimberly earned a bachelor’s degree in Parks and Recreation, and a minor in marketing, from Western Illinois University.  She is a certified park and recreation professional.

Decatur Park District Welcomes New Accounting Manager

The Decatur Park District welcomes Kristin Sowa as their new accounting manager.   In this role, Kristin will be responsible for a range of accounting duties including the consistent application of accounting/finance procedures and internal controls, budgeting and purchasing. She will provide input into the day-to-day operations, as well as assist with mid to long-range planning. Prior to this position, Kristin worked as a consultant for The Mann Group, chief financial officer for Bachrach, and controller for Millikin University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Eastern Illinois University.

Winnetka Park District Names Robert Smith as New Executive Director

The Winnetka Park District Board of Commissioners appointed Robert Smith as the new executive director for the Winnetka Park District. He has been with the park district since 2003 as the superintendent of parks. His in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the park district’s operations will enable him to hit the ground running. During his tenure with the park district, Robert has successfully demonstrated his leadership abilities through staff development, project management, public outreach and budget preparation, along with operational management of the district’s park assets.

Prior to his stint with the Winnetka Park District, Robert served as the superintendent of parks for the Park District of Franklin Park (2000-2003) and Morton Grove Park District (1990-2000).  His parks and recreation career has spanned over 34 years, getting his start at the Bensenville Park District as a supervisor of buildings and grounds. Robert has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in public administration from Governors State University. Additionally, he is a certified parks and recreation professional and certified playground inspector.

Bensenville Park District Names Rick Robbins as New Executive Director

The Bensenville Park District Board of Commissioners has appointed Rick Robbins executive director of the Bensenville Park District. Rick has worked in the parks and recreation field for over 30 years and brings experiences from very distinct parts of the country to his new position in Bensenville.  He most recently served the Collinsville Area Recreation District for 6 years as their superintendent of recreation, and as interim executive director during his final year with the district.  Prior to Collinsville, Rick spent 17 years as the supervisor of athletics and fitness services for the Peoria Park District.  Rick began his career with the Park District of Highland Park as their athletic supervisor. Rick is a graduate of parks and recreation from Southern Illinois University.  He brings a great deal of experience and passion to his new position and is excited to be back in the Chicago region.

Springfield Park District Names Derek Harms as New Executive Director


The Springfield Park District Board of Trustees has appointed Derek Harms as the executive director of the Springfield Park District. Derek brings a diverse 14 years of experience in the park and recreation field to his new position. Throughout his career, he has managed a wide range of facilities and programs at four park districts located in North Eastern and Central Illinois. During his tenure, he has been involved with the vision, funding, and construction phases of several multimillion dollar projects including a large scale water park, athletic complexes and multiple recreation centers.


Derek earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation, parks and tourism administration from Western Illinois University. Although Harms worked at three different park districts in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs for several years, he has always considered Central Illinois his home. In 2007, Harms moved to Springfield to accept the position of director of recreation at the Springfield Park District and was later appointed as the district’s interim executive director where he provided leadership and vision to the agency during a challenging transitional period.

The Hanover Park Park District is proud to welcome Mark Dolphin as the new Athletic Supervisor

Mark graduated from Loras College in Iowa in 2010 with a major in sports management and a minor in business management. Mark interned at the Hanover Park Park District in 2009 and was involved in all aspects of the recreation department. Prior to his internship he also worked as a concessions manager at Seafari Springs Aquatic Center. Mark currently lives in Schaumburg and is very excited to begin his career in the world of Parks and Recreation. He will be overseeing youth and adult athletics as well as special events and assist with aquatic services.


St. Charles Park District Promotes Jeff Greenwald to Superintendent of Recreation Position

The St. Charles Park Board of Commissioners welcomes Jeff Greenwald as the new superintendent of recreation. In his new role, Jeff will oversee all aspects of the District’s recreation department, aquatic facilities and miniature golf.

Jeff has worked with the St. Charles Park District in a full-time capacity since 1993, starting as a facility manager of a sports center. In 1995, he expanded his duties to include the management of River View Miniature Golf Course. In 2000, he became an assistant superintendent of recreation overseeing the management of the Pottawatomie Community Center including open gym, fitness and birthday parties, STC Underground Teen Center, the Adult Activity Center, Baker Station After School Program, family activities, summer concert series and many special events and trips.

Most recently, he directed two significant renovations, the courtyard near the miniature golf course in Pottawatomie Park and Pottawatomie Community Center’s main customer service desk. He is a certified parks and recreation professional and holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.


Schaumburg Park District Hires New Fitness Supervisor

Alyssa Danca has been selected as the new fitness supervisor for the Schaumburg Park District. Danca journeys into the parks and recreation field after four years with HealthFitness, a provider of health management solutions for large companies. She also has taught group exercise classes and was a personal trainer at other park districts and fitness centers.

She is professionally certified as a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and primary group exercise instructor through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA). Her additional instructor certifications include ZUMBA, Balletone, Les Mills BODYPUMP and Schwinn Indoor Cycling.

Danca, born and raised in Elk Grove Village, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois State University in 2009.

Morton Grove Park District Welcomes New Staff

The Morton Grove Park District is pleased to announce the appointment of Martin O’Brien to the position of finance manager. Prior to his appointment, Martin has worked in the finance department of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. During his twenty year tenure, he has worked in many different areas including budgeting, payroll, accounts payable and auditing. He has a bachelor of science in accounting from Roosevelt University and is a certified public accountant.


LeeAnn Fisk has been named superintendent of recreation for the Morton Grove Park District. She has served Illinois park and recreation agencies for over 25 years in several capacities. She previously worked at the Village of Palos Park as director of parks and recreation and the Homewood –Flossmoor Park District as facility manager. In addition she has held supervisory roles for the Village of Orland Park Recreation Department, Lemont Park District and the Joliet Park District. LeeAnn helped redefine the Palos Park recreation department, implemented community wide programs and events and co-authored the IPRA Guide to Internships, giving agencies a tool to implement a program for student and agency success. LeeAnn carries a bachelors of recreation administration from the University of St. Francis.


The Morton Grove Park District is pleased to announce the hiring of three new Recreation Supervisors.

Stacy Lafortune graduated from Western Illinois University with a degree in recreation, park and tourism. She comes from the Park District of Forest Park where she held the position of superintendent of recreation handling aquatics, adult athletics programs, special events, safety, Teen Camp programs, trips and fitness. Stacy is now responsible for: dance, music, birthday parties, day cCamps, trips, community outreach and some special events at Morton Grove.

Dan Parker attended the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and graduated with a bachelor of science in sports and fitness management. He comes to us from Racine Youth Sports, where he was the sports programs manager. Racine Youth Sports is an organization that services over 3,000 kids in 4 different sports. Dan now manages all youth and adult athletic programs and some special events at Morton Grove.

Kari Redmond received a bachelor of science degree in recreation, parks, tourism and administration from Western Illinois University. Prior to coming to Morton Grove, she worked at the Wheeling Park District for 12 years (8 years part time and 4 years full time). At the Morton Grove Park District, Kari oversees aquatics, special events, teen and adult programs.


Mt. Prospect Park District announces that Barry Kurcz has been selected as Director of Business Services and Human Resources

Charged with recommending and administering policies and procedures for the sound operation of the district’s business, Kurcz oversees human resources; financial procedures, processes and purchasing; inventory controls; budget; registration and the management of information systems and technology.

Kurcz previously served as director of human resources for the City of Waukegan and the Village of Glenview. He holds an MBA in human resource management from Dominican University and bachelor’s degree in human resource administration and union management relations from the University of Illinois, Chicago.


Lincolnway Special Recreation Association (LWSRA) names Keith Wallace New Executive Director

Keith has served as the agency's superintendent of recreation for the past seven years. As superintendent, he has been on the forefront of change for the agency. Keith states that working for agencies such as Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) have given him his knowledge, vision, and passion.

Keith earned a bachelor of science in leisure studies with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation from Grambling State University in Louisiana. Keith is an active member of IPRA, is currently the out-going director and the incoming membership council representative for the Diversity Section. He is also a member of the therapeutic recreation section. Nationally, he is a member of NRPA, National Wheelchair Basketball Association and National Wheelchair Softball Association.

Lincolnway Special Recreation Executive Director Retires

Lincolnway Special Recreation Association announces the retirement of Lana Graser as its executive director. Lana held that position for over 15 years. Prior that she served on the LWSRA board for 10 years. She was member of several committees and was a driving force in the growth and development of LWSRA. During her tenure she, with the LWSRA Board, developed a building fund and pursued, and won, a $2.5 million PARC grant to build an LWSRA facility. The LWSRA dream of a totally accessible recreation center will become a reality in the spring of 2014.


Glenview Park District promoted Taylor Pahos to Supervisor of Recreation and Visual Arts at Park Center

Pahos, who has worked for the Park District since 2006 as birthday party coordinator, will now oversee all Park District visual arts programs, Park Center birthday parties, select special events and summer camps.

Pahos is a DePaul University graduate and is currently working toward her master’s degree, also at DePaul. She is also an artist who has studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Joe Pollina, manager of program services, said, "Her proven experience, her education, and her passion for the visual arts will ensure our customers continue to experience the highest quality events and programs.”


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is pleased to announce that Arnold Biondohas recently been appointed by the Board of Commissioners as its next Executive Director.

Arnold is an experienced parks and recreation management executive, having served 18 years in his most recent role as executive director of the Carol Stream Park District. During his tenure, the Park District has won several accreditation and recognition awards, including one for excellence in financial reporting; and Arnold led the development of seven additional park sites totaling a 30 percent increase in territory.Arnold has formed and nurtured relationships with other park districts, forest preserves, IDOT, schools, and other key stakeholders throughout his career - work that will transfer seamlessly to this role with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Throughout his career in parks and recreation management,Arnold has held other similar positions in the Wheeling, Wheaton and Oakbrook Terrace Park Districts. He earned a bachelor of science inrecreation and park management at the University of Oregon; and a master of arts in service marketing and management at DePaul University. Mr. Biondo also serves as co-chair of the Joint Editorial Committee for IAPD and IPRA.


DeLuce named Champaign Park District Executive Director

The Champaign Park District Board of Commissioners has appointed Joe DeLuce executive director of the Champaign Park District effective January 1, 2014. Mr. DeLuce will succeed Bobbie Herakovich who is retiring after serving the Park District for twelve years.

Mr. DeLuce brings over 33 years of experience in parks and recreation to his new position. He has worked for the Champaign Park District for the past 16 years as the Director of Recreation and as Deputy Director since September. DeLuce previously was Executive Director of the Macon County Georgia Sports Commission and Director of Parks and Recreation in Hallandale Florida. Prior to Hallandale, DeLuce was the Parks and Recreation Superintendent in Broward County, where he managed three regional parks and nine community parks. He began his career in his hometown of Toronto, Ohio after graduating from Kent State University in Parks and Recreation. DeLuce also received a Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois in Parks and Recreation Administration

River Trails Park District Announces Retirement of Debbie Kudla

During the past 30 years, Debbie Carlson Kudla has been the executive director of the River Trails Park District. Debbie has been a visionary in parks and recreation since 1975. She led the agency to a successful referendum in 2000 to prevent the loss of tax revenues which resulted in several needed updates on current facilities and continued strong support and praise from the community. During her reign, property ownership has increased and all parks and playgrounds have been redeveloped to current standards and in 1997 earned an Award of Excellence from the State of Illinois for one of the parks.

Since Debbie joined the district, the agency experienced the building of a golf driving range, a 24,000 sq. foot community center, complete renovation of the pool facility, purchase of new administration offices, renovation of an existing building into a 2nd community center, purchase of a golf course and then building a new clubhouse/banquet facility and the development of a skate park. She has also served as Great Lakes Regional Council for NRPA, IPRA President, Board Member and Co-Chairperson of the Joint Publications Committee. Additionally, Debbie was chosen to receive the 2007 Robert Artz Award.


Bourbonnais Township Park District names new Superintendent of Finance and Personnel

The Bourbonnais Township Park District announced today that Paula Rogers has been named the new superintendent of finance and personnel. Mrs. Rogers has over twenty years of experience in accounting and administration. She will be responsible for a variety of functions which include financial reporting, accounting, payroll, employee benefits, human resources, information technology, office services and risk management functions. Mrs. Rogers brings an impressive work history to the table with most recently being employed by ABM Engineering Services as finance manager. Mrs. Rogers has a MBA and bachelors degree in business administration from Governors State University.

Arlington Heights Announces New Staff

Alann Petersen – Director of Parks and Planning

Alann started at AHPD in July as the Director of Parks and Planning. Alann comes with years of great experience in the private sector and with the Elk Grove Park District, where he served as a Park Planner and then was promoted to Director of Parks and Planning. As a student of Iowa State University, Alann studied Landscape Architecture and currently resides in Carol Stream, Illinois.

Anthony Meneghini – Website Content Specialist

With proficiency in MAC and PC environments, as well as technical skills in programs such as Dreamweaver, After Effects, HTML, CSS, Photoshop, Adobe Design Suite, and Javascript, Anthony manages AHPD’s web presence. His experience comes from working as a web master and tech specialist with Community Consolidated School District 181 in Burr Ridge. He joined AHPD in May, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Multimedia & Wed Design and a certificate in Motion Graphics from the Illinois Institute of Art.

Colleen McCarty – Park Planner I

When taking on her new position in June, Colleen was most excited to assist with the design of the new dog park, as she has two dogs of her own. Colleen’s experience comes from her undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois and as the Assistant Park Planner of the Elmhurst Park District. In her free time Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband, playing volleyball, and is a certified scuba diver.

John Giannetti – Fleet Supervisor

Prior to his position as Fleet Service Manager John served as a mechanic at the Arlington Heights Park District and was promoted in October 2012, to Fleet Supervisor . John’s previous experience comes from his Fleet Supervisor position at the Northbrook Park District as well as serving in the United States Air Force.

Lindsey Robertson – Recreation Community Center Supervisor

Lindsey spent the summer getting to know her aquatics staff after starting as Recreation Community Center’s Supervisor in June. Lindsey was a part of AHPD’s part time staff in 2005, and took a full time position as the Membership and Community Development Specialist for Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, prior to returning to AHPD. Born and raised a huge Blackhawks fan, Lindsey enjoys going to games with her Dad who has held season tickets since the 1970s.

Megann Panek – Senior Center Supervisor

If Megann could sign up for any AHPD program it would be group guitar classes. She plays the piano and sings, as well as travels all over the country to go to concerts with her husband. Megann comes from the Glenview Park District where she was the Senior Center Director, and is a graduate of University of Illinois with a degree in community health. Megann started at the Arlington Heights Senior Center in June, and was eager to meet her staff, and residents.

Paul Ratacyzk – Athletics Supervisor

Paul was recently promoted to Athletics Supervisor after serving as Recreation Supervisor at Frontier Park Community Center since 2004 with the Arlington Heights Park District. His involvement with AHPD athletics began two years ago while assisting with the Arlington Aces Soccer scheduling and payroll. Being born and raised in Wisconsin, Paul enjoys bike riding, and sports, especially football. He cheers on the Greenbay Packers and was named AHPD Fantasy Football Champion in 2012.

Stacey Vanenkenvort – CAP & Fitness Supervisor

While at the Geneva Park District, Stacey received the Young Professional of the Year Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts. As a Recreation Supervisor, Stacey was responsible for Geneva’s Before and After School Program, Camps, School Days Off, Preschool, and Special Events. Stacey continues to be influenced by her Dad who told her to always strive for your personal best, work hard, and appreciate the people around you. Stacey brought these attributes to the Arlington Heights Park District in December of 2012, and applies them to her current role as the Children At Play (CAP) and Fitness Supervisor.

Nick Wirth – Frontier Community Center Supervisor

As a graduate of Iowa State University, Nick studied Sports and Recreation Management, and comes to AHPD from Customer Service of the Hoffman Estates Park District. He started at AHPD in June, around the same time his facility was under major renovations. When not working, Nick enjoys cheering on the Chicago Cubs and playing baseball for the Midwest Suburban Baseball League.


Itasca Announces new Curator for the Depot Museum and Superintendent of Finance, Personnel and IT

Angela Houghton has been hired as the Museum Curator for the 140-year old Itasca Historical Depot Museum. The depot has recently undergone a major renovation to restore the Train Depot to its original look and will be opening in September. Angela has an M.A. in Museum Studies from University of Leicester, England and B.S. in Anthropology and Sociology from Iowa State University. Angela has worked with the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust and the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle in England. 


The Itasca Park District welcomes Christine Kelly, Superintendent of Finance, Personnel & IT. Christine has a B.S. in Business Administration from Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO. She worked at Prospect Heights Park District as a Business Analyst/IT Manager. She also has corporate Experience in Business Development.


The Des Plaines Park District is pleased to announce the hiring of Chris Leiner as Assistant Superintendent of Parks and Planning,

Leiner comes to Des Plaines with twelve years of experience as the Revenue Facilities Maintenance and Operations Manager for the Park District of Oak Park.

Leiner’s responsibilities include managing the full time and seasonal park staff as well as planning and overseeing the maintenance, repair and upkeep of all park district facilities, parks, ball fields, golf courses, and pools, to ensure they are functioning according to District standards. "Leiner is perfectly suited to step into this position because of his strong background coordinating the needs of different Park District departments, along with his risk management experience, his expertise in systems and operations, and the training of facility maintenance staff,” said Paul Cathey, Superintendent of Parks and Planning. "His years managing the maintenance of revenue generating facilities, and developing and implementing quality control practices make him a perfect fit here in Des Plaines.”


Desiree van Thorre Promoted to human resources & risk manager

The Des Plaines Park District announced today that Desiree van Thorre has been promoted to the position of Human Resources and Risk Manager, effective September 30. Van Thorre graduated from Purdue University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Management and an Associate of Science Degree in Technology, with minors in Organizational Behavior/Human Resources and Psychology.She began her career at the Des Plaines Park District as the Aquatics and Youth Programs Supervisor with over five years of on-the-job experience at the Park Ridge Park District. Since March of 2011, she has managed Iroquois and Chippewa neighborhood pools and Mystic Waters Family Aquatic Center during the summer, overseeing a staff of 200.


Holly Cabel has been named director of parks and recreation for the St. Charles Park District.

Cabel has served as the District’s superintendent of recreation for eight years, assistant superintendent of recreation for five years and a recreation supervisor the previous four years.

As Superintendent of Recreation, Cabel’s responsibilities included management of the recreation budget, which includes 1,500 annual programs and a multitude of services at Pottawatomie Community Center, Otter Cove Aquatic Park, Swanson Swimming Pool, River View Miniature Golf Course and the STC Underground Teen Center.

Cabel has been directly involved in the District’s facility and park improvement projects, most recently the construction and grand openings of Otter Cove Aquatic Park and Hickory Knolls Discovery Center and the renovation of Swanson Swimming Pool in 2011.

Cabel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa in 1992. She is in the process of acquiring a Masters in Public Administration.


Decatur Park District Announces Director of Operations

The Decatur Park District is pleased to announce the promotion of Ryan Raleigh to director of operations. During his 11-year tenure at the Decatur Park District, Ryan has served as risk manager and human resources manager. Prior to these roles, he was corporate safety manager at K’s Merchandise (Decatur, IL) shared safety coordinator at Bloomingdale, Itasca, Wood Dale, and Medinah Park Districts, and loss control consultant at Loss Control Services (Davenport, IA). He holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety from Illinois State University and serves as chairperson of the PDRMA claims committee and member of the PDRMA risk management committee. In his new position, Ryan will oversee the Park District’s maintenance, construction, electrical, fleet, safety and horticulture staffs.


Champaign Park District Executive Director Retires

The Champaign Park District announces the retirement of Bobbie Herakovich, as its executive director. Bobbie has served as executive director for the last 12 years.

Achievements by the Champaign Park District under Herakovich’s leadership include building a new Sholem Aquatic Center, renovating the historic Virginia Theatre, development of five new parks, construction of 15 miles of trails, restoration of over 35 acres of prairie, and success in many programs that promote fun and healthy lifestyles. The Champaign Parks Foundation was also created and has helped to add to the quality of life of Champaign residents, neighborhoods, and the city through generous donors. Bobbie has worked in local government for over 39 years throughout her career.


Winnetka Park District Announces Retirement of Dr. Terry G. Schwartz

During the past four years, the Winnetka Park District has been fortunate to be guided by the professional leadership of executive director, Dr. Terry G. Schwartz; therefore it is with sadness that the Board of Commissioners announces his retirement.

During his tenure at the Winnetka Park District he has led the District through agency-wide business plans, the current strategic plan, Gold LEED Certified Parks Service Center completion, Intergovernmental Cooperation Award with the Village of Winnetka through the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), Parks Service Center Outstanding Facility and Parks Award from the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA), IPRA/IAPD Distinguished Accredited Agency Award and more.

Terry has recently been elected into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA). Terry has also served as director of the Glen Ellyn Park District and the South Barrington Park District, revenue facilities superintendent of the Arlington Heights Park District and superintendent of recreation for the Champaign Park District.


In Memorium

Donald W. Burns age 78 late of Tinley Park, IL formerly of Oak Forest, IL and Chicago "East Side". Korean War Army Veteran. Don retired from Local 17, and from the Oak Forest Police Dept. He was very active in the Oak Forest Community, serving as an elected official on the Park District, director of the Park District, vice president of the Oak Forest Baseball Association, founding member of Oak Forest Flag Football League, president of the Gingerwood Homeowner Association, alderman of the 3rd Ward in Oak Forest for 8 years, served on the Executive Board of Illinois Association Park Districts in 1991. Don also volunteered countless hours as a coach for a variety of sports, member of St. Damian Men's Club, and a member of the Mason Lodge 1398.


In Memorium

David James (Jim) Brademas, Ph.D., 83 passed away on August 19, 2013. After the Navy, Jim spent the next five years at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1954 and a master’s degree in 1955, both in recreation, sport and tourism management.

Upon his return to the U.S. in 1956, he was appointed the first superintendent of recreation for the Rockford, IL Park District. He returned to the University of Illinois as a doctoral student, earning his Ph.D. in recreation management in 1976. He stayed at the University and taught for 26 years. In 1982, he was elected as a member of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. In 2005, he was selected as one of the American Academy Legends for having made outstanding contributions to the field of Parks and Recreation. Jim was honored with the Charles K. Brightbill Alumnus Award in 2010 for his scholarship and leadership in Parks and Recreation.

The Elk Grove Park District is pleased to announce the appointment of Ben Curcio as the director of parks and planning.

Ben has been the superintendent of parks and facilities for the Elk Grove Park District since 2011. He has a bachelor of science degree in recreation administration from Eastern Illinois University in 1997 and his masters of public administration from Roosevelt University in 2002. His previous work in the field of recreation includes superintendant of parks and facilities at Barrington Park District and the director of operations at Lake Barrington Field House.



 Park District of Oak Park Announces Staff Changes

Mitch Bowlin has been named the new Finance Manager for the Park District of Oak Park. Mitch started his career at IPRA in 2010, and is now returning to Parks and Recreation after a brief stint in the private sector. Mitch has been tasked with cash handling, book keeping, financial reporting, overseeing payroll and payables, along with aiding in the budget and audit processes.

Mitch graduated with an MBA in Finance from North Central College in 2013.



Kyle Cratty joined the Park District of Oak Park in 2010 serving as the Finance Manager. In that role, Kyle managed the day-to-day financial activities for the Park District including general ledger maintenance, investing, and oversight of accounts payable and payroll. In May of 2013, Kyle was promoted to the Director of Finance where he is responsible for annual budget, audit, and tax levy. Kyle is a graduate of St. Ambrose University with bachelor degrees in Economics and Finance and Northern Illinois University with a Master’s in Public Administration.


Maureen McCarthy has been named Superintendent of Recreation for the Park District of Oak Park. Maureen’s responsibilities include administrative planning and management of the overall operation of the recreation department. Including sports, fitness, childcare, day camp, family activities, teens and more. Maureen has spent the last 23 years working for YMCA’s in Florida, Wisconsin and the Chicago land area. Most recently she was the Senior Executive Director of programming for the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago and prior to that the Executive Director of the Elmhurst YMCA.



Mike Mockler has been named Program Supervisor-Sports for the Park District of Oak Park. Mike's responsibilities will include youth and adult athletic programming including leagues, classes, and camps. Most recently, he was the Athletic Supervisor at the Itasca Park District and prior to that, he was the Youth Athletics Coordinator for the Park District of Oak Park. Mike is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism.




Park District Announces Selection of the Next Executive Director

The Des Plaines Park District has announced the selection of their next Executive Director by the Park Board of Commissioners. Mr. Don Miletic, the current Superintendent of Business & Golf Operations, was appointed to a newly created position of Assistant Executive Director at the Park Board meeting on June 18. "The Park Board has taken a proactive approach to the succession process, which is clearly in the best interest of the District. We are very pleased that Mr. Miletic has accepted the new position, and we’re confident that this will provide the District with the consistently fine leadership we have all come to expect,” said Park Board President Joe Weber.



Ralph Thomas Cianchetti, 87, US Army WII Purple Heart veteran, former board member of Highland Park District and former board member NE Illinois Agency of Aging, passed away peacefully June 25, 2013.

Beloved husband of the late Barbara Cianchetti (nee Harris); loving father of Carrie Cianchetti of Oakland, CA and Angela (Len) Krietz of Chicago; proud grandfather of Michelle (Don) McKinney and Eric and Daniel Krietz; dear brother of Sam (Marilyn) Cianchetti.

Ralph was a Highland Park High School English teacher, golf coach, faculty advisor to the yearbook, past president of the Illinois Association of Park Districts, former trustee (9years) of the National Recreation and Park Association, in addition to being heavily involved with the State of IL Commission on Aging and the Holiday Meals on Wheels program. Ralph will be dearly missed.


Geneva Park District Announces Staff Additions and Promotions

Nicole Vickers (promoted)

Nicole Vickers is the new Superintendent of Recreation for the Geneva Park District. As Superintendent, Nicole oversees all aspects of the recreation department, facilities and marketing department. Nicole started at the Geneva Park District in 2004 as the Aquatic/Recreation Coordinator and in 2008 was promoted to Facility Manager.


Mike Younie (new staff)

Mike Younie joined Geneva Park District in May 2013, as the new Director of Facilities. He is responsible for the planning, coordination and supervision of Sunset Community Center, Sunset Racquetball and Fitness Center, Stephen D. Persinger Recreation Center and Sunset Pool. Mike previously worked for Fox Valley Special Recreation Association as their Senior Manager and has 10 years of experience in park and recreation field.


Matt Netrefa (promoted)

Matt Netrefa joined the Geneva Park District in 2008 and previously held the position of Recreation Coordinator and has since worked with their before/after school program, summer camps, birthday parties and teen programs. In 2013, he was promoted to Recreation Supervisor, where he is responsible for supervising the before/after school program, pre-school, camps, birthday parties, teen programs, and summer events.


 Jan Parcell (new staff)

Jan Parcell joined Geneva Park District in August of 2008 as a site coordinator for the new before-and-after school program. In 2010, she developed and supervised the KinderZone program, a before-and-after school program designed specifically for the Kindergarten student. In February of 2013, Jan became the Recreation Coordinator. As a Recreation Coordinator she is responsible for supervising all before-and-after school programs, summer camp, and various other events.



The Medinah Park District announces the retirement of Tom Connolly, CPRP, as its Executive Director.

During his tenure of more than 20 years, the Park District acquired 35 acres of open space through donations and grants, completed a 5 acre wetland restoration using a developer mitigation grant, added new facilities and amenities to the park system, renovated and expanded its recreation center and increased program and service offerings.

Tom holds BS and MS degrees from Indiana University. Beginning in 1973, he worked for the Cary Park District, the Peoria Association for People with Disabilities, the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association, and the South Suburban Special Recreation Association, prior to joining the Medinah Park District in 1992. From 1985 to 1990, he served as a freelance writer/photographer/consultant for more than 25 park districts, school districts, special recreation associations, and non-profit organizations.

An active professional, Tom was president of the Special Recreation Associations of Northern Illinois (SRANI), served on the ITRS Board of Directors, chaired the IPRA Awards & Recognitions Committee, and served as a member of the NEDSRA Board of Trustees for over 20 years.


Glen Ellyn Park District announces new Facility Manager and Aquatic & Fitness Facility Supervisor

The Glen Ellyn Park District Welcomes Sean Nelson as its New Facility Manager

He will be overseeing Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center and Sunset Pool. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Marketing and Public Relations from Louisiana State University. For the past 14 years, he has worked at YMCAs in DuPage and McHenry counties, including B.R. Ryall in Glen Ellyn. His most recent position was with the Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake as Executive Director, where he managed more than 100 full and part-time staff while coordinating a $19 million capital campaign to build a new facility.

Anne Bennett has Been Hired as Aquatic & Fitness Facility Supervisor

Assisting Nelson in the management of Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center and Sunset Pool is a lifelong Glen Ellyn resident, Anne Bennett. Her experience at GEPD began as a summer lifeguard and swim instructor in high school and college. She went on to earn a degree in Recreation and Park Administration from Illinois State University. While a student, she interned at GEPD. She has held supervisory positions in aquatics and facilities at Barlett, Itasca and Roselle park districts, hiring, training and managing staff, swim lessons, concessions, rentals and parties. In addition to assisting at Ackerman, Bennett will oversee Sunset Pool during the summer.


Oakbrook Terrace Park District Welcomes New Recreation Supervisor

The Oakbrook Terrace Park District has named, Hannah Boehm, as the Recreation Supervisor. Hannah is a 2011 graduate from Illinois State University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Park Administration. She is responsible for the Before & After School Program, Day Camps, Adult Athletics, Special Events and programming for Youth, Teens, and Adults. Hannah is a resident of Homewood, Illinois.



Itasca Park District Welcomes New Recreation Supervisor

Katie Mendez is the Itasca Park District’s new Recreation Supervisor. Katie holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Illinois State University as well as a Bachelor of Science in Resort & Hospitality Management from Florida Gulf Coast University.



Head of McHenry County Conservation District Elected Vice Chair of Regional Conservation Alliance

Chicago, IL—The Chicago Wilderness alliance announced today that Elizabeth S. Kessler, Executive Director of the McHenry County Conservation District, has been elected as its new Vice Chair. Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance of more than 300 organizations working to protect land, water and wildlife in our region.

In her role as Vice Chair, Kessler will work with conservation, government and corporate leaders to develop and guide regional conservation initiatives. She has been active in the Chicago Wilderness alliance since 2006.

Elizabeth is currently a member of the American Academy for Park & Recreation Administrators and Ex-Officio Director of the McHenry County Conservation Foundation. Kessler holds an MBA with distinction from the Keller Graduate School of Management and is a certified park and recreation professional.


St. Charles Park District Board of Commissioners Welcomes Brian Charles

St. Charles resident Brian Charles was elected to the St. Charles Park District Board of Commissioners. Charles manages manage Dell’s Mobility Solutions practice in the Americas, providing mobile application-engineering and business-consulting technology services to large enterprise customers.

Commissioners are elected to four-year terms. This governing body is responsible for, among other things, passing ordinances, adopting the budget, appointing committees, and hiring the Park District Executive Director.


Wood Dale Park District Announces New Executive Director

Matthew Ellmann has been named executive director of the Wood Dale Park District. As executive director, Matthew will lead the agency through strategic planning for the future while managing the day to day operations. Most recently, Matthew was the superintendent of recreation with the Park District of Oak Park serving in that capacity for over 8 years and leading the reorganization process of the Recreation Department. Prior to Oak Park, Matt was the executive director of the Park District of LaGrange and before that, the Warrenville Park District. Matt received his bachelor’s degree from George Williams College in Leisure Education Recreation Administration. Matt is passionate about people and the profession.


Batavia Park District Announces Two Staff Changes

Rita Kruse was Announced as the Director of Finance

The Batavia Park District recently ended an extensive search for a new Director of Finance after the position was vacated in November. The position is crucial to the park district due to its role with budgeting, tax levies and payroll, and therefore, the task of finding a replacement was not taken lightly.

Executive Director Allison Niemela announced that Rita Kruse of Aurora had accepted the position. Kruse comes from the Village of Addison as the Assistant Finance Director. Prior to that, she held a position as an Accounting Manager with the Village of Downers Grove. Government experience was crucial in the selection of a new Director of Finance for the park district. With nearly 10 years of experience in government finance and a strong financial background, Kruse was an ideal fit.Kruse is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Northern Illinois University.


Kari Miller was Promoted to Director of Marketing and Public Relations

She oversees the marketing and public relations department consisting of seven employees. Additional responsibilities include being the webmaster for the district and developing and maintaining comprehensive marketing plans and promotions for all recreation programs, special events, the Depot Museum and the Hall Quarry Beach. She is in charge of the District’s communications including publications, email blasts, video productions, social media and public relations campaigns.

Miller joined the Batavia Park District in 2008 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Bradley University with a major in communications and has nine years of public relations experience. Miller was promoted by Allison Niemela, the former Director of Marketing and Public Relations who recently was promoted to Executive Director. The promotion will be a smooth transition for the district. "Kari is one of the fastest rising stars I’ve encountered, always looking out for the best interest of the District,” said Niemela. "She is very talented and deserving of this promotion.”


Arlington Heights Park District Announces Retirements

Brian Huckstadt, Director of Park and Planning retires from Arlington Heights Park District

Brian Huckstadt has been a dedicated employee for seventeen years, beginning April 1, 1996. He will be retiring June 28, 2013. During his tenure, Brian managed a full-time staff of 44 and 35 part-time staff, overseeing 58 parks totaling 715.98 acres and was instrumental in administering capital projects of over $50 million and overseeing $5,647,000 in local, state and federal grant money for the District. Brian was a pivotal member of the Memorial Park Drive to Revive Committee dedicated to redesigning and reconstructing a central plaza to honor the sacrifice of veterans. Additionally, Brian forged partnerships with the Villages of Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect and many others. His broad base of experiences, exceptional administrative abilities and commitment to maintaining high standards of professionalism to the District and the community will be missed. The Arlington Heights Park District thanks Brian and wishes him and his family the best for their future.

Robert E. Smith has served as a commissioner of the Arlington Heights Park District for sixteen years, and served with distinction as President of the Board of Commissioners for two terms and as Vice-President for two terms. He has been active in the advancement of parks and recreation on a state level by serving in 2004 as sergeant-at-arms and in 2005 as trustee on the Illinois Association of Park Districts’ (IAPD) Board of Trustees. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the District acquiring over 19 acres of land valued at $7,450,000 - and over $5,647,000 in local, state, and federal grant money for the District. He was a founder of the Arlington Heights Park Foundation and served on its board until 2003.

Robert L. Whisler served as a commissioner of the Arlington Heights Park District for thirteen years,and served with distinction as President of the Board of Commissioners for three terms. His expertise in the area of business and real estate assisted staff in the purchase of numerous properties for the expansion of District parks and/or operations. A life-long resident of Arlington Heights, Whisler also played an active role as a member of the Arlington Heights Rotary Club, president of the Arlington Baseball Boosters, and coach for over 20 years of the Arlington Heights American Legion Baseball Team.



 Glencoe Park District Welcomes New Executive Director

The Glencoe Park District is pleased to announce that Lisa Sheppard has been hired as the new executive director. With a comprehensive professional background and positive energy, she is a great addition to the Park District family.

Lisa comes to Glencoe with over 20 years of experience in the field of parks and recreation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in recreation management from Carthage College. Her work resume is extensive, with experience in all major disciplines of the district including recreation, facility and parks management, public relations, marketing, and fiscal management. Lisa spent the past 15 years as Superintendent of Recreation at the Gurnee Park District. In addition to her broad work experience, Lisa is an active professional in the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA).


Vernon Hills Park District Announces New Hires

Jessica Mitchell, Administrative Assistant

Jessica graduated from Northwood University of Midland, Michigan in May 2007 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a major focus in Sport, Entertainment, and Promotion Management. She was employed by the Waukegan Park District from June 2008 to March 2013 as a Recreation Specialist for Adult Programs and Services. Jessica joined the Vernon Hills Park District’s Administrative team in March, 2013.


Randy Kopeloff, IT Coordinator

Randy is pursuing his Associates in Science degree at Oakton Community College. He has worked at the YMCA previously for 8 years (in various positions such as camp counselor, front desk, and child care) with the past 3 years working directly with technology (network management, website, and database management . Randy joined the Vernon Hills Park District in the new position of IT Coordinator in January, 2013.



Matt LaPorte, Lakeview Fitness Center Facility Supervisor

Matt has a BS in Recreation Management and Policy from the University of New Hampsire. Matt’s career has been focused in general and therapeutic recreation. He has supported outdoor recreation programs for persons with disabilities in addition to being the Sports Director for a local YMCA in Boston, MA. He was the Recreation Coordinator for the City of Greenwood Village, CO, and in 2007, became the Erie Parks and Recreation’s first General Programs Coordinator, overseeing youth and family programming, outdoor adventure programs, and camps. Matt accepted the position with the Vernon Hills Park District because he was ready to grow in a new direction within the recreation field. The timing to join the Park District was perfect for him and his family to move to Illinois.

Jonathan Shaw has been appointed to the position of director of recreation for the Calumet Park Recreation Department.

Jonathan began working for the Department in 2007, specializing in outdoor maintenance and gradually rising to the rank of recreation supervisor in 2010. From that point on, Jonathan began to understand and appreciate the positive effects the parks and recreation experience had upon the participants of the Department’s programs and the people of Calumet Park. As director, Jonathan will lead the Department with policy construction, youth development, and the overhaul of the Department’s programming and operations. Jonathan is an active member of organizations such as NRPA, IPRA, SSPRPA, and is currently on track to attain his CPRP certification in 2014.


Erik Jakubowski has been selected to serve as Superintendent of Park Services at the Crystal Lake Park District

Erik has an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Horticulture and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He has worked for the Crystal Lake Park District since 2001, most recently in the position of Turf and Irrigation Crew Leader. His responsibilities as the Superintendent of Park Services include the development, renovation and maintenance of all grounds, buildings, and park facilities in the Crystal Lake Park District. In addition, Erik will manage and supervise all full-time and part-time personnel in the planning and coordination of both in-house and contracted maintenance tasks and capital improvement projects.


Park District Honors Former Commissioner John "Jack” Kerr

The St. Charles Park District hosted a dedication ceremony to honor former commissioner John "Jack” Kerr in Pottawatomie Park. Jack, who passed away on July 2, 2012, had been very involved in the Fox Valley community since moving there in 1985 from Marietta, Ga., with his wife of 52 years, Mary Neder Kerr.

For Jack’s 25 years of service and dedication to the Park District, the Park Board will commemorate the walkway along the shores of the Fox River by the historic pavilion in Pottawatomie Park to be named the John "Jack” Kerr Walkway.

Much was accomplished during Jack’s tenure. Jack was an advocate for the acquisition of open space, improvement to existing facilities and development of new properties. Jack was instrumental in the Park District winning the National Gold Medal Award in 1998. During his time on the board, more than 1,000 acres of land used for parks and open space were acquired. Two successful referendums were passed which paved the way for the acquisition of open space, development of Primrose Farm, two major sports complexes, construction of an aquatic park, nature center and miles of bike path. Jack’s passion was aquatics, specifically the renovation of the 70-year-old Swanson Pool in Pottawatomie Park.

 Amy Wilson joins Western DuPage Special Recreation Association (WDSRA) as a Program Supervisor

With a degree in Music Therapy, Wilson will oversee cultural arts, music and cooking programs. In addition, she will be responsible for several social clubs, some special events and day camps. Her responsibilities include planning engaging activities, creating modifications for participants as needed and supervising part-time staff.

Wilson’s areas of expertise include: delivering music lessons to children and music therapy to seniors, adapting music instruction in order to accommodate individuals with special needs, music and wellness, goal-oriented therapy, and behavior modification. She has a Music Therapy degree from Illinois State University and is a Board-Certified Music Therapist.


Commissioner Klimek Honored for 24 Years of Service to St. Charles Park District

At a retirement reception for Park Commissioner Gloria Klimek, the St. Charles Park District named the exhibit hall at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in recognition of Klimek’s 24 years as an elected official. She has worked tirelessly with her fellow commissioners and Park District staff members to acquire and improve parks, natural areas, athletic facilities and the variety of recreational programs offered to Park District residents.

Klimek has been an active environmentalist and enthusiastic community volunteer. She strongly encouraged the Park District to take a proactive approach in partnering with local and regional public agencies to offer outstanding and innovative environmental education and conservation programs. She was an advocate for the removal of invasive non-native plant materials in St. Charles’ remaining natural areas, the establishment of an arboretum at Mt. St. Mary Park and the development of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden in Pottawatomie Park. During Gloria’s tenure, construction took place of Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, a LEED certified facility and the first of its kind in Kane County.


Itasca Park District welcomes New Athletic Supervisor

Mike Mockler is the Itasca Park District’s new Athletic Supervisor. Mike comes to Itasca from the Park District of Oak Park where he was the Youth Athletics Coordinator. Mike is a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Sport and Tourism with a concentration in Sports Management.


Frankfort Park District Welcomes New Board Member

The Frankfort Park District Board of Commissioners and staff are pleased to announce and welcome a new appointed board member, Dr. John Reilly, to the Park District Board of Commissioners. John Reilly’s appointment fills the vacancy left from Angela David’s resignation. Dr. Reilly’s experience in the community with youth sports groups and the Frankfort Loins Club will be an exceptional asset to the Frankfort Park District. Commissioner Reilly is looking forward to serving on the Board.


Kuhs Chosen to Head Mt. Prospect Park District

Greg Kuhs has been named as the new Executive Director of Mt. Prospect Park District. Kuhs had previously served as superintendent of recreation for the Prospect Heights, Addison and Deerfield Park Districts as well as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the North Berwyn and Salt Creek Park Districts. Most recently he was Executive Director of Wood Dale Park District.

Kuhs received an MBA from Webster University in St. Louis and BA in Recreation Administration from University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse. He has served as Chair and Trustee of the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association; Chair of the Northwest Special Recreation Association and is a past board member of the Special Leisure Services Foundation. He is also a certified Park and Recreation Professional, a member of the National Recreation and Park Association, a member of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and a graduate of their Professional Development School.


Walter Johnson recently received the Association of Aquatic Professionals Visionary Award

Walter supported the formation of the new association now led by many leaders and delegates previously involved in the former NRPA National Aquatic Conference which he created and administered for 18 years.
Association President Farhad Madani stated "We would not be here if it was not for Walt's past vision and dedication in creating the foundation for education and training for aquatic professionals nationwide."

(From left to right - Farhad Madani, President AOAP, Walter Johnson, AOAP Executive Director, Juliene Hefter, First President, NRPA Aquatic Branch and presentor, Bob Bradley)


Arlington Heights Park District Announces Retirements

Jim Glueckert, Director of Recreation & Facilities Retires

Jim Glueckert was a dedicated employee of the Arlington Heights Park District for thirty-nine years, beginning in 1973 and held the positions of Facility Supervisor, Athletic Supervisor, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation, Superintendent of Recreation and Director of Recreation and Facilities. Jim was part of the District’s outstanding achievement as a three-time recipient of National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park & Recreation Management and certification as an IAPD/IPRA Distinguished Park and Recreation Agency. Jim was instrumental in guiding the Recreation and Facilities Department to meet the challenging and changing leisure needs of the community.

Pam Lingert, Recreation Supervisor Retires

Pam Lingert was an employee of the Arlington Heights Park District for thirty-seven years, beginning in 1975 and held the positions of Cashier, Recreation Leader, Center Director, Cultural Arts Supervisor, Preschool/Day Camp Supervisor and C.A.P. Supervisor in the Recreation and Facilities Department. Pam was also involved in specialty camps, sports camps, and the Outreach Program for the Park District. Pam was an active member of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and was recognized for her dedication in attending conferences and seminars to find the latest programs for preschool and youth in the community. Pam also served as chair on the before and after school committee which serves over 800 children on a daily basis at ten schools



Tim Reinbold named Superintendent of Recreation for the Warrenville Park District.

Tim’s responsibilities include administrative planning and management of the overall operation of the Recreation Department to include a wide scope of recreation, fitness and facility related programming. In addition, Tim serves as the Park District Safety Coordinator.

Tim comes to Warrenville from the Oakbrook Terrace (IL) Park District, where he was Director of Recreation and Park Services. Tim managed the day-to-day operation of the parks department and supervised the recreation department, including recreational programs, facilities, and staff.

Tim has a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and has also worked for Elmhurst YMCA as youth sports director and Lisle Park District as Athletics Supervisor and Meadows Center Supervisor.


Dan Olson was named director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

Olson, 40, has been with the forest preserve district for about 10 years as its director of natural resources. He also was named deputy director earlier in 2012. He is a native of Clinton who graduated with a bachelor's degree in zoology from Eastern Illinois University. Before coming to the forest preserve district, he worked at the University of Illinois' College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences as a visiting research scientist, with a specialty in biological research.


The Village of Hawthorn Woods announced that Brian J. Sullivan MPA, CPRP, has joined the Village’s leadership team.

Brian assumes a new position of Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation and Executive Projects Manager for this dynamic and progressive community in Lake County. Sullivan brings over 25 years of experience in the leisure industry to his new position with Team Hawthorn Woods and was named Honored Professional of the Year by IPRA

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