Chief Operating Officer Klitzing Named Top Park Professional in the Nation

Carmel, Ind. (June 28, 2018) – Michael Klitzing, Chief Operating Officer of Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation (CCPR), has received the National Distinguished Professional Award by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the parks and recreation field through leadership, research, advocacy, community outreach and program development. The award ceremony will take place during the NRPA 2018 Annual Conference, Sept. 25-27, 2018, in Indianapolis.

“Michael has been instrumental in expanding and enhancing parks and recreation in the Carmel community,” said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “He is a visionary leader who has transformed Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation into a nationally recognized department receiving numerous awards including the prestigious 2014 National Gold Medal.”

Under Klitzing’s leadership, CCPR obtained its national accreditation in 2014, and the NRPA Barb King Environmental Stewardship Award and NRPA Excellence in Inclusion Award in 2015 and 2016 respectively. During Klitzing’s tenure, CCPR has also won numerous state and regional awards for its innovative facilities and programs, including its commitment to serving people with disabilities.

In 2011, Klitzing was a part of a distinguished group of individuals to take the inaugural Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) exam and successfully earn this prestigious certification. CPRE establishes a national standard for managerial, administrative and executive parks and recreation professionals. This mastery-level credential focuses on the practical knowledge and current real-world skills necessary in today’s changing park and recreation environment.

“Michael is a proven leader and innovator with a passion for advancing parks and recreation,” said Mark Westermeier, Director of CCPR. “We are so lucky to have him as a part of our leadership team.”

Klitzing, who has served Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation since 2004, directed the opening of its $55 million community center and waterpark, initiated a contract to manage the local school district’s before and after school program serving over 2,400 students daily and guided the growth of the department from 40 to nearly 600 employees. His leadership exemplifies entrepreneurial approaches in managing public services and establishing inclusion, sustainability (cost recovery) and innovation as core values of the department.

Klitzing is an active member of NRPA, serving as Chair of the Program Committee for the 2018 Conference. He is a Commissioner on the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation agencies, which is responsible for establishing national standards and best practices for park and recreation systems and accrediting local, state and military agencies. Klitzing is a former member of the Brownsburg Parks Board (2009–2016), serving five years as President, and is a current member of the Lake Lemon Conservancy District Board. Klitzing was the recipient of the New Professional Award from the American Park and Recreation Society/National Recreation and Park Association. Klitzing is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences and presented at the Smart Cities & Sports Summit 2017 in Montreal, sponsored by the World Union of Olympic Cities. At last year’s NRPA Conference in New Orleans, Klitzing was inducted into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), a national organization comprised of 125 active distinguished practitioners and educators who are leaders in the field of park and recreation.

Klitzing’s education includes a bachelor’s in economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and a master’s in Administration of Parks and Recreation Systems from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale where he was recognized as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.

A full list of NRPA Award winners is available here.

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