Member Biography

Greg Petry

Greg Petry, CPRE, started his life in Parks and Recreation at age 15 in his hometown of East Brunswick Township, New Jersey: Division of Parks and Recreation (Tom Shuster, Director). He was among the first class to be granted a Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) in 2011.

His education includes a BS, Teacher Preparation, Physical Education from Manhattan College, 1978 and a MS, Parks and Recreation Administration from Penn State University,1980 (Dr. Geoff Godbey, Advisor).

In 2017 he retired as the Executive Director of the Waukegan Park District, Illinois ( He joined the Waukegan Park District in 1987 as the Superintendent of Parks. In honor of his over thirty years of service, guidance, and leadership the district named a park after him: Waukegan’s Greg Petry Sports Complex.

Prior to that, he worked for Illinois park districts in Highland Park (Ernie Nance, Executive Director), Mundelein and Park Ridge.

Greg served in many professional associations. He was a Regent at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Maintenance Management School; President of the Midwest Institute of Park Executives (MIPE), Director of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) Parks Section and President of the National Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). He was a member of the Joint Legislative Committee for the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) and a member of the NRPA Member Relations Task Force.

He wrote several articles on park operations and management, sports turf and park and recreation legislative affairs.  Greg has also been a guest speaker at several universities, as well as state and national conferences.

He has received state and national recognition for leading his park district in the development of outstanding programs and facilities. Most notable are the STMA Harry C. Gill Groundskeeper of the Year Award, the IPRA Robert M. Artz Lifetime Achievement Award, and the IAPD Honored Professional.

The Waukegan Park District has received numerous program and facility development awards and honors from professional and trade associations while under Mr. Petry’s leadership. In 2013, it won the prestigious NRPA Gold Medal and was a finalist for the same in 2012. Other agency awards include the NRPA Dorothy Mullen Arts and Humanities Award, and the NRPA Barb King Environmental Award

With a 66% percent margin of victory, the Citizens of Waukegan passed a tax increase referendum supporting parks development in 1997 as Greg led the “Committee to Save Our Parks”. This initiative generates approximately $3-5 million annually which is leveraged for bond issues to support capital improvements and developments. Notable projects such as the Waukegan SportsPark and the Field House Sports and Fitness Center have had a combined annual economic impact of over $15 million annually.

The Waukegan Parks District is Accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), is an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency and maintains the highest rating with the Park District Risk Management Association.

His interests include hanging out at his place down the Jersey Shore (everyone welcome) traveling, hiking, running, fishing, gardening, and downhill skiing.  

He is married to Candia, a retired Walgreens Pharmacy Manager, and has twin sons Steve and Dan. [current as of 06.06.2023]