Member Biography

Peter M. Murphy, J.D., CAE

President/Chief Executive Officer
Illinois Association of Park Districts

Peter joined the Illinois Association of Park Districts in 1980. As President and CEO he has extensive experience in operations leadership, customer service and organizational design and development. He manages the association’s day-to-day operations and personnel, works with the IAPD board of trustees on the development and implementation of strategic plans and goals. He actively establishes corporate and nonprofit partnerships. He also directs all association programmatic activity and services including advocacy, research, board member training, publications, education, public awareness and marketing. He works daily with more than 415 park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies throughout the state of Illinois that fall under the policy direction of 2,100 locally elected park and recreation board members that employ more than 62,000 personnel.

He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctorate from the New England School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. He has more than 35 years of experience with state and local government.

While servicing as the association’s General Counsel, he was responsible for the initiation and passage of legislation pertaining to park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and special recreation agencies on statewide and national levels. He has an unprecedented legislative record having worked to pass more than 90% of the IAPD’s legislative agenda during his 35 years at the association.

In 1989 he was responsible for establishing the funding source for the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) fund. Since that time, more than $416 million has been received by Illinois park districts, forest preserves, conservation, recreation and municipal agencies. This is matched by over 50% for a total investment of more than $1 billion in the recreational infrastructure of local park and recreation agencies. He played a key role in protecting open space in the state of Illinois and coordinated the efforts of more than 130 organizations to turn back former Illinois Governor Blagojevich’s stated objective to put funding for open space “on holiday” in Illinois. In 1994 he re-established bonding ability of Illinois local governments who were subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Act. He has also been responsible for legislation that took the tax levy for programs that support services for the disabled outside the limitation of the state’s tax cap.

He annually conducts board self-evaluations on effective governance for members throughout the state and chairs the association’s Executive Search team, which has conducted more than 110 searches for park directors since its inception.

He has managed the association’s legal and legislative programs, acted as legal counsel to the membership, provided grassroots advocacy training, provided testimony on behalf of the association to House and Senate committees. He is a founding member of the Partners for Parks and Wildlife Coalition and served as liaison to the IAPD/IPRA Joint Legislative Committee, which establishes the association’s yearly platform and coordinates initiatives to promote positive legislation for parks, recreation and conservation.

He serves on the board of the Illinois Parks Association Risk Services (IPARKS) which provides property and casualty insurance to more than 170 member agencies. In 1995 he was chosen to be the chairman of the American Public Entity Excess Pool (APEEP) with assets of more than $200 million, a position that he still holds today.

Peter earned designation as a Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and in 2014 was a speaker at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference on Leadership. He was elected President of the Illinois Society of Association Executives (ISAE) in 1993 and has served on various committees since 1988, serving as chairman of the ISAE Legislative and Non-dues Revenue Committees and on the ASAE Legal Section Council Board. He was honored as the Illinois Society of Association Executives (ISAE) Distinguished Member in 1991.

He has been a member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) since 1980 and has been a member of their National Issues Action Committee and has served as chairman of the American Park and Recreation Society’s Legislative Committee. He is also a member of the American Society of Association Executives. He also serves as General Counsel and President for the Friends of Illinois Parks Foundation. He is a member of the National Parks Conservation Association and is a member of the International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration.

Peter is a prolific author and is dedicated to lifelong learning. In 2003, he was inducted into the prestigious American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. [updated February 2015]