Downers Grove Park District receives Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency Award

Updated 11/30/2021 6:15 PM

The Downers Grove Park District has been recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.

The two statewide associations administer the Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program with the goal of improving the delivery of park and recreation services to Illinois residents. "Illinois has a reputation for the best park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies in the nation," said Peter Murphy, IAPD president and CEO. "The Illinois Distinguished Accreditation program provides an opportunity for these agencies to undergo a voluntary, comprehensive evaluation process to demonstrate that they have met state guidelines to provide exceptional park and recreation services to their community. The end result is to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents."


"This program gives recognition to park and recreation agencies that go above and beyond in dedicating themselves to offering quality programs and services designed to fulfill their community's needs," said Barry Franks, IPRA interim executive director.

A park district or recreation agency interested in applying for Distinguished Accredited Agency recognition undergoes a detailed, lengthy process of application and evaluation. A Joint Distinguished Park and Recreation Accreditation Committee (JDPRAC) comprised of members from IAPD and IPRA coordinates the evaluation process. The Committee reviews the agency's general management procedures, finance and business operations, facilities and parks, personnel, recreation services, legal documentation and other materials including mission statements, goals and safety manuals.

This year, as Downers Grove Park District celebrates its 75th anniversary, the agency was well positioned to succeed in the Distinguished Accreditation review. "There are tremendous benefits for an agency that achieves Distinguished Accredited status," said Bill McAdam, Executive Director of Downers Grove Park District and IPRA Co-Chair of the JDPRAC. "This application process is an excellent self-evaluation for agencies to realize increased efficiency and effectiveness. The Downers Grove community can have confidence that their park district employs qualified professionals and has met the highest of standards."

Downers Grove Park District was reviewed by the JDPRAC in October and was approved for Distinguished Accredited status on Nov. 22, 2021. The district received a 99.25% on the review with high marks for clear and transparent District goals and Master Planning, extensive community engagement and communication, development of vital partnerships with local agencies and organizations, excellent financial operations and comprehensive budgeting, and outstanding implementation of safety practices and staff training.

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One of nearly 50 agencies out of nearly 400 in state, Downers Grove Park District is honored to have achieved Distinguished Accreditation. "Residents of Downers Grove should be proud to know that their park district is among the very best in Illinois," said Cathy Mahoney, president of Downers Grove Park District's Board of Commissioners.

The district will be recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency during the IAPD/IPRA Annual Conference in January. In compliance with the program, Downers Grove Park District will be reevaluated in six years to verify that they have continued to demonstrate sound management practices in providing quality park and recreation services to the community.

The Downers Grove Park District enriches our community through natural area preservation and exceptional recreation, parks, and facilities that inspire memorable experiences. With almost 600 acres of parks and facilities, there are thousands of opportunities for individuals of all ages and interests to grow, play, imagine and explore. Learn more at

Illinois Association of Park District is a nonprofit service, research and education organization that serves park districts, forest preserves, conservation and recreation agencies. The association advances these agencies, their citizen board members, and professional staff in their ability to provide outstanding park and recreation opportunities, preserve natural resources and improve the quality of life for all people in Illinois.

Established in 1944, Illinois Park and Recreation Association's mission is to provide and promote exceptional standards of education, networking, and resources for all professionals in the Illinois park, recreation and conservation communities.

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