Interview with WPRA Executive Director & CEO, Steve Thompson

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 1.27.35 PMName: Steve Thompson
Title: Executive Director & CEO
Company: Wisconsin Parks & Recreation Association (WPRA)
Based in: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Established: 1965

Tell me a little bit about how you became involved with WPRA.
As a student enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, I was in what was then called “Program Leadership”. Through the program, I had the opportunity to attend the WPRA Annual Conference that was held in La Crosse in 1972. Needless to say, the interaction with numerous professionals and my attendance at a number of educational sessions and socials reconfirmed my commitment to this profession. I have been involved with WPRA for over 42 years as both a member and an employee.

What is your current role and your favorite part about working with WPRA.
My current position is the Executive Director & CEO of the state association for the past 20 years. My favorite part about working with WPRA is attending the Regional Meetings. These meetings are excellent opportunities to receive immediate feedback on the pulse of the profession and current state of affairs of Parks and Recreation in Wisconsin.

What is your favorite Parks and Recreation memory? 
My favorite memory of Parks and Recreation would be the development of “Thompson Park” in Hales Corners. With over 100 acres of empty fields adjacent to our home, and having eleven brothers and sisters, it was a natural that we develop our very own park that consisted of a softball field, football field, driving range, etc. Our park had all of the amenities of today’s well established parks, but was maintained entirely by children.

What trends are you anticipating in Parks and Recreation in 2014?
Continuing to see Parks and Recreation as a business….less and less tax support, and more revenue generations to offset programming and facility costs through partnerships, sponsorships and fee development.

How did you first hear about GoStrive?  What intrigued you most? 
I heard about GoStrive at a meeting of the NRPA Board of Directors. I was so intrigued by the concept that a program was being developed to allow community residents to instantly access all of the Park and Recreation offerings in their surrounding area, and all at the convenience of never leaving their home to access this information.

What impact do you see GoStrive having on Parks and Recreation agencies in Wisconsin? 
I see GoStrive as the single most important development in the history of the Parks and Recreation movement in our state. This is simply the most comprehensive and user-friendly program that allows both residents and Parks and Recreation agencies to interact in a convenient, timely and cost effective fashion.

Fill in the blanks. Before GoStrive ____ . After GoStrive ____ .
Before GoStrive, finding out about Park and Recreation opportunities, facilities, and parks by visiting the Parks and Recreation agency. After GoStrive, accessing Parks and Recreation resources becomes an instant and immediate action. Someday, GoStrive will be THE format for determining available Parks and Recreation resources, viewing what comparable communities provide their residents, obtaining community and political support to continue or enhance these services, and ensuring that these services are the very fabric of every community.

Learn more about WPRA, and their mission to to provide professionals and agencies with leadership, educational, personal and professional development opportunities, on their website.