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

Skokie Park District Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

La Grange – On January 28, 2021, the Illinois Park & Recreation Association (IPRA) awarded the Skokie Park District with the first ever Champions for Change Award, honoring their commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Skokie Park District was recognized during the IPRA Awards Program at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Virtual Conference.

IPRA Champions for Change Award: Skokie Park District

The IPRA Champions for Change Award recognizes agencies with unique and exemplary practices of increasing access and fostering diversity and inclusion within their community or organization. These are measurable practices that improve the working experience and engagement levels of employees and/or the lives of all people within the community through the delivery of excellent services that improve social equity and access in the community.

The Skokie Park District mission statement envisions a community where all residents enjoy a quality life. Whether it’s through board diversification, policy, programming, or training, Skokie has created a culture that operationalizes diversity, equity, and inclusion, and promotes a welcoming environment for staff and the community.

In 2015, the district commissioned a comprehensive master plan that put an emphasis on more community outreach and diverse programing, and what resulted was the word “inclusiveness” to its mission values and the foundation for new paths to serving its residents.

A staff diversity committee was formed to help create and highlight diversity-related initiatives throughout the district. Full-time managerial staff pursued training through the national seed project in order to develop as leaders who will guide their peers in driving personal, organizational, and societal change toward social justice.

Community outreach advanced to include district staff serving on DEI-related boards and committees and inviting DEI non-profit groups to help shape various district initiatives. For instance, with the help of members of the LGBTQ+ community, the Skokie Park District created a transgender policy to provide a safe and inclusive environment for members, visitors, and participants using district amenities.

Skokie Park District is the hub of DEI conversations in the community and offers a wide range of inclusive and diverse programming. The annual Skokie Festival of Cultures has 70 different cultures
participating with an average annual attendance of more than 25,000 people. Since 2009, DEI programming, special events, and staff training has increased in ranges of 300 to 700%, proving that when intentional, change can happen.

‘We are so proud to roll out this new award as a way to motivate park and recreation agencies to take intentional steps towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Skokie Park District deserves to be our first recipient because they have been on the path for improving equity and access for many years. They have created a model that we hope other agencies will be inspired to follow.’ -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. In 2021, the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference went virtual – bringing together park and recreation professionals and elected officials for three exciting

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: