Since 1994, Steve Thompson, CPRP has been the Chief Executive Officer for the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association, continuing a career of long commitment to promoting the cause of leisure and park services. He began his career as the first graduate of the Recreation Leadership program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, with an emphasis in Therapeutic Recreation, and continued it with merit as the founder and chairperson of numerous local and state organizations, including the Wisconsin Exceptional Athletics Association, Inc., the Therapeutic Recreation Association for Milwaukee County, Inc., the Wisconsin Coalition of Arts and Human Needs, and countless others.
Steven Thompson's career has included a variety of Therapeutic Recreation and Community Park and Recreation positions including the following: Director of Recreation & Camping for the Milwaukee Easter Seal Society, the first Director of Special Recreation for Milwaukee County, Director of Therapeutic Recreation and Speech-Language Pathology and Director of Clinical Services for the Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Hospital, Community Center Manager, Park & Recreation Manager and Division Director for the Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture.
He is the recipient of numerous awards, including being named the Executive Director of the Year by the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives, the Tommy Wilson Memorial Award of the American Association for Leisure and Recreation for the "nation's most significant contribution to recreation programming for individuals with disabilities", the Professional Award of Merit by the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association - the highest award for a member actively involved in the Park and Recreation field, the Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Recognition Award for service to homeless veterans, the National Gold Medal and Special Recreation Award in recognition for developing outstanding community programs for persons with disabilities in the nation, and was the recipient of the 1996 UW La Crosse College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation's Excellence Award.
Currently, he is serving as the President for the National Recreation and Park Association, and will become the first professional to serve as the Chair-Elect in the Fall of 2011. He has served NRPA in a number of leadership roles, including as a Board of Trustee/Director, (second-three year term), immediate past Board Member for the American park & Recration Society, Co-Chair of the NRPA Annual Fund, Co-Chair of the Bylaws Committee, Co-Chair of the Library Committee, Member of the Board of Directors' Public Policy Committee, long-time Member of the Great Lakes Regional Council, Past President of the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association, Founder and President of eight statewide organizations promoting the arts, athletic and fitness opportunities and community recreation for citizens with disabilities, etc. He is also a licensed lobbyist for the Wisconsin Park & Recreation Association, and has promoted and initiated bills impacting park and recreation services for the State of Wisconsin over the past 17 years. He is also an Advisory Council Member for the Aurora University School of Experiential Leadership Recreation Administration Advisory Council in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and a long-time adjunct instructor for the University of WI-Milwaukee.