Ron Olson became chief of the Parks and Recreation Division for the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources in January 2005. He is responsible for operations, budgeting, planning and strategic management of the division that includes harbors, state parks, recreation areas, trails and boating access sites.
Olson earned his bachelor's degree in recreation and park administration from the University of Minnesota and his master's degree in the same major from Indiana University.
Prior to joining the DNR, he served for 20 years as associate city administrator and superintendent of the Ann Arbor parks and recreation department, as well as filling in as interim city administrator on two occasions. He also held positions directing parks and recreation agencies in Maryland for 11 years and Indiana for two years.
Olson serves on the National Recreation and Park Association’s Congress Program Committee. He is a member of the American Academy of Park and Recreation Professionals. Olson is a past president of the Michigan Recreation and Park Association and current president of the organization's foundation. He also held several leadership positions, including president, with the Maryland Recreation and Park Association. Olson has been recognized twice as Public Official of the Year by the Huron Valley Sierra Club and a scholarship has been created in his name with the Michigan Recreation and Park Association for excellence in serving the parks and recreation profession. He also received the 2005 W.W. Patty Distinguished Alumni Award, School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, from the Department of Parks and Recreation, Indiana University.