Jill Geller, executive director of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, has announced plans to leave the agency in late September.
Geller’s resignation was accepted by the Johnson County Board of Park and Recreation Commissioners during its regular monthly meeting held on July 24. The executive director will leave the agency on September 20. In October, she will assume the position of Parks, Recreation, and Libraries Director for the city of Roseville, Calif.
“I thank you for your support and confidence in me to lead this incredible agency for the past 5½ years, and I am deeply appreciative for the many opportunities that have been afforded me during my 36-year tenure. I will be forever grateful to this organization, and especially to you, for making every single day a ‘great day at work’ for me,” Geller wrote in a letter to JCPRD staff last week.
Geller has been with JCPRD for 36 years, and has served as the agency’s executive director since 2013. After coming to JCPRD in 1980 as a recreation coordinator whose duties included teaching aerobics, gymnastics, and officiating volleyball, Geller went on to serve for more than a decade as the agency’s first-ever Kansas City Corporate Challenge executive director, and ten years as superintendent of recreation.
“Jill Geller has expertly guided JCPRD toward its mission of enhancing the quality of life in Johnson County by providing excellent parks and high quality recreation programs,” said Board Chair Steve Baru. “She has achieved this by listening to our patrons, and responding in a professional, timely, and knowledgeable manner. She has also molded the organization into an employer of choice, allowing us to present professional and effective services to the community by employing highly qualified and talented staff.”
Among her major accomplishments with JCPRD, Geller developed and oversaw the implementation of a healthy concessions initiative, known as SCORE! introducing healthy menu items at the district’s major sports venues. She played a lead role in the acquisition, renovation, and opening of JCPRD’s New Century Fieldhouse and Mill Creek Activity Center. Most recently under her leadership, JCPRD has opened several new parks, trails, and facilities including Lexington Lake Park, Big Bull Creek Park, Meadowbrook Park, Coffee Creek Streamway Trail, Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, and Meadowbrook Park Clubhouse.
Since Geller took the helm as executive director, JCPRD has twice been re-accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies. In 2017, the agency received park and recreation’s highest honor, the National Gold Medal of Excellence from the National Recreation and Park Association.
Among the many awards Geller has received include: the Kansas Recreation & Park Association’s Distinguished Fellow Award in 2018, Inspirational Woman of Johnson County in 2017, Special Achievement and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the 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; and she was named one of Kansas’s “Heartiest Five” by the Governor’s Council on Fitness.
“The board will very soon decide on a preferred strategy to fill the executive director position,” Chair Baru said. “We are fortunate to have a very talented internal pool of highly-qualified candidates but we have also had inquiries from some outstanding individuals around the country. Obviously our executive director position is a prestigious position that is highly sought after. The Board will soon decide which direction to proceed and what steps to take.”