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Jill Geller Named as JCPRD's New Superintendent of Recreation
POSTED: 03/24/2004
Longtime Johnson County Park and Recreation District employee Jill Geller of Prairie Village has been tapped to serve as the agency's next Superintendent of Recreation

Geller, whose current title is Corporate and Community Wellness Manager, will step into her new position beginning April 24 following the retirement of outgoing Superintendent of Recreation Sharon Williams.

"We had several very qualified internal candidates but felt that Jill was best suited to lead the Recreation Division into this next era," Director Michael Meadors said. "Jill is recognized in many local, regional and national circles. She is well respected by all who work with and have come to know her. I am very excited about her new and expanding role with the District."

Geller first came to the District in August of 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 a Recreation Specialist overseeing Special Events, Wellness, and the KCCC. She was promoted to Recreation Manager in those areas in 2000.

"I've been with the District for about twenty years and I've done a little bit of everything," she said. "I feel like I have a real good knowledge of the whole division. Granted, there are some areas that I haven't been exposed to, but for the most part, I felt ready (for the move to superintendent)."

Asked what she feels she brings to the division, Geller said "a lot of experience, a lot of ideas, and energy. I want to open opportunities for staff to be more creative and do more than we've even thought we can do. Bottom line is, I'm very optimistic about the future."

Because the Recreation Division is set up as an enterprise fund - meaning that expenses are paid through revenues from participants rather than through tax dollars - Geller anticipates the Division's biggest challenge will always be budgetary..

"It's always covering our expenses and being able to be as creative as we want to be but within the limitations that are set for us by the enterprise budget," she said. "While that's a challenge, it's kind of exciting too because it's like running our own business."

While the Kansas City Corporate Challenge will undergo organizational changes as a result of this personnel change as well, Geller expects the organization will continue to maintain the same relationship with the District. She also expects to be involved in this year's games, which begin on May 8, in a transitional stage.

"I don't see myself being totally removed because of the late stage that we're in already," she said. "I will probably be very involved in the games yet this year, but working with the new person in a training situation."

In preparation for Williams' departure on April 23, a transitional plan was to be in place by March 15 to allow Jill to be brought up to speed on everything within the Recreation Division and District-wide through job shadowing and inclusion in meetings with various committees and outside groups.

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