NRPA Recognizes Excellence in Parks & Rec With Innovation and Spotlight Awards

Ashburn, VA (June 13, 2022)

Awards, Scholarships and Fellowships to be presented at the 2022 NRPA Annual Conference

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s NRPA Innovation Awards, Spotlight Awards and Scholarships and Fellowships. The awards will be presented during the 2022 NRPA Annual Conference, in Phoenix, AZ in September 2022 when NRPA will announce the winner of its Best in Innovation Award, which recognizes the best of the best in park and recreation innovation.

NRPA Innovation Awards

The NRPA Innovation Awards recognize park and recreation agencies nationwide that have improved and strengthened their communities through innovative practices in park design, health and wellness, conservation and social equity. The recipients of this year’s awards are as follows:

Innovation in Conservation Award

Palos Preserves Urban Night Sky Place, Forest Preserves of Cook County, Cook County, Illinois

Innovation in Health Award

Tallahassee Senior Center UPSLIDE, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department, Tallahassee, Florida

Innovation in Design Award

Maker Playground, Fishers Parks & Recreation Department, Fishers, Indiana Innovation in Social Equity Award Hillsborough County Wheelchair Football, Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, Tampa, Florida

NRPA Spotlight Awards

NRPA Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals to honor their efforts — both professional and personal — in the field of parks and recreation. The following individuals are recognized with NRPA Spotlight Awards:

National Distinguished Professional Award

Dr. Michal Anne Lord, Executive Director (retired), Texas Recreation and Park Society Robert M. Artz Advocate Award Ted Schoenborn, Bend Metro Park and Recreation District Board of Directors, Bend Park and Recreation District, Bend, Oregon

<32>Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award

Kristen Herndon, CPRE, Assistant Director, Person County Recreation, Arts and Parks, Roxboro, North Carolina

RWJF – NRPA Award for Health Equity

Velma Bailey, Founder/CEO, Saint Louis Torchbearers 2, St. Louis, Missouri

NRPA Scholarships and Fellowships provide recipients with the opportunity to attend and explore the operation of the field at the NRPA Annual Conference, which will be held both Phoenix, Arizona in September 2022. Congratulations to our awardees in the following categories:

Diversity Scholarship

Jenny Doan, City of Columbus Recreation and Parks (Ohio)

Olivia Salazar de Breaux, Olympia Parks Arts & Recreation Department (Washington)

Student Scholarship

Gabrielle Andux, Appalachian State University

Bryan Wyks, Radford University

Young Professional Fellowship

Jeff Achee, CPRP, City of Harker Heights Parks & Recreation (Texas)

Elena Christopher, City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (Texas)

Kate Connell, CPRP, AFO, City of Iowa City Parks & Recreation Department (Iowa)

Kate DeAngelis, Town of Lexington Recreation & Community Programs (Massachusetts)

“NRPA is proud to recognize innovative projects and programs at park and recreation agencies, as well as the incredible work by these dedicated individuals,” said Kristine Stratton, NRPA president and CEO.  “Congratulations to this year’s winners who have demonstrated their commitment to building strong and healthy communities through parks and recreation. We are looking forward to celebrating your achievements in Phoenix!”

“The NRPA National Awards and Scholarship Committee is proud to honor the 2022 NRPA Innovation and Spotlight Award winners, as well as the Scholarship and Fellowship recipients,” said Jason Mangum, chair of NRPA’s National Awards & Scholarship Committee and Parks & Recreation Director for Missouri City, Texas. “After reviewing and scoring nearly 200 outstanding nominations, the committee was thoroughly inspired by the significant contributions each program, project and professional has in their respective communities, and the standards they set for the entire parks and recreation industry.”

To learn more about NRPA Innovation Awards, click here.

To learn more about NRPA Spotlight Awards, click here.

To learn more about NRPA Scholarships and Fellowships, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit

About the National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation. With more than 60,000 members, NRPA advances this mission by investing in and championing the work of park and recreation professionals and advocates — the catalysts for positive change in service of equity, climate-readiness, and overall health and well-being.

For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit