Press Release - For Immediate Release
Contact: Heather Weishaar, Outreach Director
[email protected]/708.588.2282

Thousands of Park & Recreation Professionals and Elected Officials Head to Chicago for Annual Conference


La Grange – Employees and elected officials from park and recreation agencies state-wide will convene at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for three days of educational programming, networking and professional development at the annual conference hosted by the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA). The IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights conference will take place January 23-25, 2020 and over 4,000 attendees are expected to attend.

The largest state conference for parks and recreation in the country, the Soaring to New Heights conference features workshops ranging from ‘Emerging Bond Issues’ to ‘Building Communities Through Play.’ Over 150 educational sessions strive to stay ahead of current trends and provide top-notch professional development for attendees. 

This year’s Keynote Speaker features Jarrett Payton, son of the late NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton. Jarrett is a radio host, businessman, philanthropist, motivational speaker, former NFL and CFL running back, and devoted husband and father. In his keynote address, Jarrett shares the inspiring story of what it was like growing up with the most famous football player in the world as his dad.  Attendees will learn about the difficulties he faced living up to the Payton name and what it meant to carry on his father’s legacy. Most notably, Jarrett emphasizes the importance of investing in our youth and why we should serve as role models who stress the value of sports, education, and character.

‘For many of our members, the conference is the highlight of the year and the top-rated member benefit.  It is the culmination of so many volunteers coming together as one community, bound together in our passion for parks and recreation.’ Debbie Trueblood, CAE, Executive Director of the Illinois Park & Recreation Association. 

Established in 1944, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s (IPRA) mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation, and conservation communities. For more information about IPRA, its board and mission, please call us or visit the IPRA website: