Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Heather Weishaar, Outreach Director, 708-588-2282

Professional Excellence Recognized at IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference

La Grange – On January 24, 2020 the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA) honored Sandy Gbur, Executive Director at the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, for her commitment and excellent service to parks and recreation in Illinois. Ms. Gbur was recognized during the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference Awards Luncheon held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

IPRA Professional of the Year Award: Sandy Gbur, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association

The Professional of the Year Award is an honor presented to an individual with more than eight years of full-time service and has made a major contribution to the park and recreation profession. The award recognizes a person who has who has made a major contribution to the park and recreation profession, and someone who consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Sandy Gbur has committed her professional life to promoting the benefits of parks and recreation throughout Illinois and introducing individuals with disabilities to the joy of participating in recreation activities in the communities she has served. Sandy has been involved in legislative advocacy since 2001, playing a critical role in the passing of SB1881 increasing the levying power of SRAs resulting in financial sustainability going forward. She is a purpose-driven professional with integrity beyond reproach earning her the National Lekotek Center Founder’s Award in 2004, IPRA President’s Award in 1992 and 2002, and the IL Therapeutic Recreation Section Director’s Award in 2006. As the current Executive Director at Western DuPage Special Recreation Association for the past 8+ years, she develops and manages a $4 million budget with 31 full time and regular part-time staff, serving nine park district communities. Through Sandy’s leadership and vision, she has made a long-lasting impact in the communities she has served and in the parks and recreation profession. As one of the best in our field, she is most deserving of the IPRA Professional of the Year Award.

‘Sandy has done so much to advocate for parks and recreation in our state, especially for special recreation for people with disabilities. She has served on our Joint Legislative Committee for many years, actively working to build relationships with legislators and support legislative action on behalf of special recreation associations statewide. We are so proud to honor her in this way.’ Debbie Trueblood, CAE, IPRA Executive Director.

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

The IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference is the premier state conference for parks and recreation, forest preserves and conservation agencies in Illinois. The IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference brings together more than 4,000 professionals and elected officials for
three exciting days of quality educational programming, networking and professional development.

Established in 1944, the Illinois Park and Recreation Association’s 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 visit the IPRA website: