For Immediate Release
Heather Weishaar
[email protected]


Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to Palatine Park District Leader


La Grange IL, January 2022 – On January 28, 2022, the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA) honored Michael Clark, Executive Director of the Palatine Park District, for his commitment and lifetime of service to parks, recreation, and conservation in Illinois. Mr. Clark was recognized during the IPRA Awards Program at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

IPRA Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Clark

The Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award is named in honor of Robert Artz who, in 1979, was the newly hired executive director of the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD). He was on American Airlines flight 191 to Los Angeles when it crashed outside O’Hare International Airport, leaving no survivors. Robert Artz left a legacy for IPRA as a champion of all that we do and all that we stand for. His award goes to a person with a minimum of 25 years as a full time professional in the field (with over 15 years served in Illinois) whose efforts & contributions have a lasting value and effect on parks, recreation and conservation.

Mike has been an ambitious leader and volunteer for the agencies he has served, and also within the community where he resides and raised his family. Mike’s achievements illustrate his desire and commitment to make the communities he works and lives in a better place to work, live and play and stresses the success that can be achieved by working together and the importance of intergovernmental cooperation. 

As past Chair of the Illinois Park and Recreation Foundation (IPRF), Mike has been an advocate for students and young professionals to be afforded opportunities to attend state conference and other professional development opportunities. As IPRF Chair, he led fundraising efforts for student and professional scholarships, and disaster relief for IPRA members. These annual events, including silent auction, sports extravaganza raffle, and golf outing, have generated more than $120,000 in donations.

Mike has demonstrated a long-term commitment to helping others, and as an advocate to develop the next leaders within the Illinois park and recreation movement and industry. He regularly visits and speaks to park and recreation students at Illinois State University, where he is an alum, emphasizing the need to initiate a professional network, internship opportunities, and a career in public parks and recreation. 

‘Mike Clark is a wonderful example of this commitment and leadership, and I congratulate him on receiving the IPRA Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award. He is highly regarded in our field, and we are so proud to honor him in this way.’ Barbara Arango, CAE, IPRA Executive Director

A complete list of IPRA Award winners is available on the IPRA website,

Established in 1944, the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA) serves nearly 2,500 park, recreation, and conservation professionals throughout the state, and is a national leader in providing premier education, networking, and resources. For more information about IPRA, its board and mission, please visit the IPRA website: