|Jill Geller named as JCPRD’s new Executive Director of Parks and Recreation|
After a national search, the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners has named a 30-plus year veteran of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District to serve as the agency’s next executive director.
Jill Geller of Olathe was selected for the position, which has been vacant since former Executive Director Michael Meadors retired on Dec. 20. A motion to appoint Geller was approved unanimously by the board at a special meeting conducted Monday night at the JCPRD Administration Building in Shawnee Mission Park. The appointment is effective Tuesday, April 8.
“We’re very excited about Jill taking the position, and we know she will do an outstanding job,” said 2014 Board Chair R. Eric Hughes. “She has a proven track record of doing just that here at the district for more than three decades.”
“I am truly honored to have been appointed as the executive director of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District,” Geller said. “As a longtime JCPRD employee, I am committed to the success of this agency and to our mission of enhancing the quality of life in Johnson County. There is no doubt that access to Johnson County parks, services, and recreation programs does make life better in our community, and I’m excited to continue and build upon our long tradition of success in the coming years.”
The executive director’s position was opened on Nov. 25 and remained open through Jan. 14. In all, 55 applications were received and reviewed by a five-member search committee which included two board members.
“Upon posting of our job opening, it quickly became evident that attracting well-qualified applicants from all over the country was the easy part; trying to narrow those high quality choices down was the hard part,” added Board Member Steve Baru, who chaired the board’s Search Committee. “I was in awe of the national interest we received and the depth and breadth of individuals who applied. It’s truly a credit to Jill that she distinguished herself from among an impressive field of candidates.”
Geller has been JCPRD’s superintendent of recreation since April of 2004. In that role, she led a division that generates annual revenues in excess of $14 million and employs 94 full-time and over 1,000 part-time employees. Since the previous director’s retirement, she has also served as JCPRD’s interim executive director. Geller first came to the district in August 1980 as a recreation coordinator whose duties included teaching aerobics, gymnastics, and officiating volleyball. In 1982, she was promoted to recreation specialist, where she oversaw the Fitness/Wellness Department. Another promotion came in 1984, this time to recreation manager, overseeing the Corporate and Community Wellness Department.
Geller left district employment from October 1986 until April 1989 in order to move to the Chicago area. She returned to the district in the role of corporate and community wellness manager. In order to spend more time with her young children, Geller chose to work on a part-time basis between 1994 and 1998. During that time, her job emphasis was on her role as the newly-created Kansas City Corporate Challenge executive director. When she returned to full-time employment, she became manager of Special Events, Wellness, and the KCCC.
Among her major accomplishments with JCPRD, Geller developed and oversaw the implementation of a healthy concessions initiative, known at SCORE! involving the availability of healthy menu items at the district’s major sports venues. In 2011, she oversaw a $1.3 million project involving the property exchange, renovation, and opening of JCPRD’s Mill Creek Activity Center, a 20,000+ square foot indoor facility in Shawnee including a full-service gymnastics center, fitness center, and classrooms, nature-based preschool, and offices. In 2010, she oversaw an $8.2 million project involving the acquisition, construction, and opening of the 88,000 square foot New Century Fieldhouse near Gardner.
Geller has been active within the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. She was elected as the organization’s president elect in 2009, president in 2010, and past-president in 2011. Early in 2014, she became a member of KRPA’s Administrative Branch Board, and in 2006, she chaired KRPA’s Recreation Branch.
In late 2013, Geller was one of three people appointed by the Kansas Governor’s Council on Fitness to serve as Physical Activity Champions for Johnson County. Physical Activity Champions advocate for local residents to be more active by promoting physical activity and its benefits to their communities. In early 2014, she was appointed to a three-year term on the Kansas Governor’s Council on Fitness.
Among the many rewards Geller has received include: a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004, the Alex George Special Achievement Award in 1999, both from Kansas City Corporate Challenge; the KC District Heartland Leadership Award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Women’s Intersport Network Spirit Award from the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission in 1997; and the Fitness City Award from the national Recreation and Park Association in 1992.