The Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration Department of Western Illinois University is the proud sponsor of IPRA's Leadership Academy. WIU's RPTA program is a nationally-recognized and highly-respected program, and it has been named a Signature Academic ProgramAt the completion of each level, individuals will receive a Certificate of Completion from Western Illinois University.

The Leadership Academy meets one full day per month for five months (October – March, no program in January). There is a maximum of 25 participant slots available for the Team Level and 25 participant slots for the Agency Level. Participants will be evaluated on a combination of their applications and resumes. The two levels the Leadership Academy curriculum offers include the various needs of professionals in our field. 


  • Team Level: This level the focus will be managing and motivating your staff (frontline team, instructors, contractors, part-time and full time employees).
  • Agency Level: The focus will be on a broader view of leadership; exploring ways to cultivate the productivity. This level is best suited for individuals who have worked within  the field of Parks and Recreation in a significant leadership role (manager, crew leader, superintendent, director).    

Each level’s course curriculum is built on the pillars of Global Leadership, Development, Change Management, Communication, and Innovation & Trends. These topic areas focus on the skills leaders need to be successful at all stages in their career. 

Program Objectives

  • Learn networking and decision making skills to help you grow as a leader

  • Learn to develop your team professionally and maximize their results

  • Learn to develop a positive work culture where excellence is the norm

  • Build your professional network with colleagues around the state

Meeting Dates & Topics

October 15, 2019
Global Leadership
November 19, 2019
December 10, 2019
Change Management
February 11, 2020
March 17, 2020
Innovation/Trends & Graduation to follow

2014 Silver Award Winner

Leadership Academy Images


"Leadership Academy wasn't just an education experience, it didn't just give me tools, resources and connections... it helped me realize that what we do in parks and recreation really matters and makes a difference in peoples lives." 

"Before attending the Leadership Academy , I thought of leadership as something that just"comes" to you. After each month's session I can say I am taking away at least 2-3 things each time that will help me strive to be a better leader. Great job with the whole program!"

"Great job with the Academy. I learned a lot, made great connections and would definitely recommend it to colleagues!"

"This was an excellent program, thank you for all you have put into it. If there could be more of a workshop/hands-on element to some of the sessions, I would appreciate that. I look forward to applying to the next level."