Since 1994, Steve Thompson has been the Chief Executive Officer for the Wisconsin Park & Recreation
Association, continuing a career of long commitment to promoting the cause of leisure and park
services. He began his career as the first graduate of the Recreation Leadership program at the
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation, and continued it with
merit as the founder and chairperson of numerous local and state organizations, including the Wisconsin
Exceptional Athletics Association, Inc., the Therapeutic Recreation Association for Milwaukee County,
Inc., the Wisconsin Coalition of Arts and Human Needs, and countless others. His career includes serving
as a Community Manager, Park & Recreation Manager, and Division Manager for the Milwaukee County
Department of Parks, Recreation & Culture.
He served as the Chairperson for the National Recreation and Park Association, a 50,000 membership
association, and two terms on the NRPA Board of Directors. He currently serves as a Board of Governor
for the National Recreation and Park Association Foundation, and was inducted into the American
Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), an organization of distinguished practitioners
and scholars committed to the advancement of the park and recreation field.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including being named the 1999 Executive Director of the Year
by the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives, the Tommy Wilson Memorial Award of the American
Association for Leisure and Recreation for the "nation's most significant contribution to recreation
programming for individuals with disabilities", the Professional Award of Merit by the Wisconsin Park &
Recreation Association - the highest award for a member actively involved in the Park and Recreation
field, the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Recognition Award for service to homeless veterans, the National
Gold Medal and Special Recreation Award in recognition for developing outstanding community
programs for persons with disabilities in the nation, and was the recipient of the 1996 UW La Crosse
College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Excellence Award.