Ray L. Kisiah

Ray L. Kisiah, former director of Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities for the City of Asheville, North Carolina, retired after 45 years in the profession. Throughout his career, he took an active role in innovating changes in the parks and recreation field.

His work experience includes: Director, Parks and Recreation Department, City of Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina; General Manager, Seven Devils Resort, Boone, North Carolina; Director, Park and Recreation Department, City of High Point, High Point, North Carolina; Assistant Superintendent and Director of Recreation, Park and Recreation Commission, City of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina; Director, Drexel Community Center, Drexel, North Carolina; Supervisor of Swimming Pools and Athletics, Parks and Recreation Commission, City of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina; Recreation Center Director, Parks and Recreation Department, City of Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina;

When Ray came to Asheville in 1971, the city had 14 parks and seven recreation centers, all of which were fairly rundown. Three months after taking the job, he asked the City Council to double his $400,000 annual budget and then found federal money, which he used to match a $1 million federal grant the department had received. Determining that it would be less expensive to rebuild than to refurbish, Mr. Kisiah and the city set out on an ambitious program, spending $12 million during the next 10 years. They built pools, picnic shelters, athletic fields, and a number of other recreation facilities.

Ray's list of volunteer service to the profession is exhausting as well. He has served on the NRPA Board of Trustees; the Membership, Public Policy, Budget and Finance, and National Issues Committees of NRPA; president of American Parks and Recreation Society (APRS); president of the North Carolina Recreation and Park Society; and president of the North Carolina Association of Amateur Athletics Union. He has been selected by his professional colleagues to serve in practically every leadership position for each level in professional organizations.

Ray is the author of numerous articles in professional journals, magazines and operations manuals. He has been a guest lecturer, speaker, panel member at numerous colleges and universities and professional recreation meetings, conferences, institutes and training workshops.

Mr. Kisiah has been recognized often for his contributions to the field. He is the recipient of:

  • American Parks and Recreation Society Distinguished Fellow Award, 1978
  • North Carolina Recreation and Parks Society Fellow Award, 1966
  • United States Amateur Athletic Union National Recreation Man of the Year, 1967
  • American Institute of Park Executives Distinguished Service Award, 1965
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Harold D. Meyer Outstanding Alumni Award, 1982
  • Harold D. Meyer Outstanding Professional Award for Southern Region NRPA, 1987
  • National Distinguished Professional Award NRPA, 1987
  • NRPA, Ralph Wilson Award, 1994

Kisiah attended the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1948-1950 and received an Associate of Arts Degree. He went on to receive his AB Degree in Recreation Administration/Sociology in 1952.