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Park District Recognizes Program Manager Gary Foiles for 35+ Years of Service

The Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners will recognize long-time employee Gary Foiles on March 22 at their 6:30 p.m. meeting at Fort Hill Activity Center, citing his 35+ years of outstanding service to the District, to the community and to the park and recreation industry. Foiles plans to retire at the end of the month.

Program Manager Gary Foiles joined the Park District staff in 1982 as a recreation program supervisor. He has developed and managed countless programs and community events, including Halloween Happening, Wonderful World of Wheels and sports such as softball, baseball, cricket and tennis, to name a few.

His commitment to parks and recreation expanded beyond Naperville, as he served as a park commissioner for the Batavia Park District from 2009-2017 and chaired the National Recreation and Park Association’s Certified Park and Recreation Professional (CPRP) Exam Committee. Additionally, he passed the NRPA’s Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) exam in 2014, making him only the 12th individual in Illinois at the time to receive the certification and the 109th professional nationally.

Gary Foiles began his career at the Park District just as Naperville’s population was about to boom, growing from 40,000 residents in 1980 to 120,000 in 2000. Reflecting on the changes that have occurred in his 35-year career, Foiles recalled that in 1982, the District had only one computer and it was in the business office. “We wrote down phone messages on pink pads and typed memos on IBM Selectric typewriters. Program registration was in-person, with people lining up at the high school early Saturday morning seeking a spot in the most popular programs.”

Recalling some of his most satisfying accomplishments at the District, Foiles remembered starting the first Wonderful World of Wheels event in the fall of 1998. With a preschool child in his own family, Foiles had the idea to create a touch-a-truck event just for young children to give them plenty of time and space to explore vehicles in a safe environment. Wonderful World of Wheels continues to be well attended, with annual attendance estimated at over 1,000.

Another successful program initiated by Foiles is the age 40+ Master’s Softball League, begun in 1994 and still going strong in 2018. “We started that first year by offering registration for individuals and had enough players to form 5 or 6 teams,” explained Foiles. “We grouped the teams by zip code. A couple of those teams are still playing together.” The league continues with registration on a team basis.

Many of the trends in recreation that Foiles has witnessed in recent years are encouraging. “There are many more options in sports for kids in general and for girls,” said Foiles. “It’s not just the big three—basketball, baseball and football. Now, there are many emerging sports that are catching on in Naperville, including lacrosse, rugby, cricket, field hockey, flag football, pickleball and Ultimate Frisbee.  And our tennis offerings have exploded!”

“As the executive director I’m truly sad to see Gary leave the District for a number of reasons,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “There will certainly be a void felt within the organization as well as the community with Gary’s departure.  Thirty-five years of experience and knowledge are not easily replaced.  The major reason I’m saddened to see Gary leave is he is a great man who was so dedicated to serving the Naperville community.  I’m proud to call him my friend and couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”


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On Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011 Naperville Park District officials heard the good news for which they have been waiting for many months: the District has achieved national accreditation through the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA).

The decision was announced at the NRPA national conference in Atlanta following a formal hearing before the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA).

Naperville is only the second park district in Illinois to earn this distinction and the 104th nationally accredited agency in the nation; there are more than 10,000 recreation agencies in the United States. The Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies accredits a handful of park agencies each year that have completed a multi-step process involving a self-review by the agency, a site visit, and an evaluation and formal report by the Commission.

“We are extremely proud to bring this honor to Naperville,” said Park District Executive Director Ray McGury. “It’s an affirmation of our high standards and also an encouragement to continue bringing high quality recreation and parks experiences to our community.”

The Park District’s accreditation process began approximately one year ago and included an extensive self-evaluation by staff and a 5-day visit from CAPRA reviewers this past July. Maintaining the accreditation requires annual reports and 5- and 10-year reviews.

Park District staff members noted that the CAPRA process has helped them see the big picture, focus on long term goals and plans, review plans more regularly, organize documents so that they are accessible and useable, and collaborate more effectively with other departments and outside organizations.

Our Mission
We provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.
Our Vision
To be a national leader in parks and recreation providing and promoting high quality experiences and facilities at a great value to our community.
Core Values
Health and Wellness, Environmental Education, Stewardship and Sustainability, Community Enrichment, Public Safety, Accessibility, Personal Growth and Enrichment.
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