Member Biography

John McGovern

John McGovern is the President of Recreation Accessibility Consultants LLC (RAC), a firm established in 2008. RAC is one of the family of companies under the umbrella of W-T Engineering, one of the premier engineering firms in Illinois. RAC advises local parks and recreation agencies, counties, and states, regarding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act with regard to existing buildings and sites, new buildings and sites, and inclusive recreation support.

McGovern served 16 years as Executive Director of the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA) in Northbrook, Illinois. NSSRA is the first intergovernmental partnership formed in 1970, and exists to provide recreation services for adults and children with disabilities. Prior to that McGovern worked as a consultant for Americans with Disabilities Consultants, and worked from 1979 to 1989 as Executive Director of the West Suburban Special Recreation Association, located in Franklin Park, Illinois. He began his career as Therapeutic Recreation Coordinator for the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico Department of Parks and Recreation in 1975.

McGovern has a MA and BA in Recreation Administration from the University of New Mexico. Always interested in civil rights, he earned a law degree from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law while working at WSSRA and remains licensed to practice in Illinois.

He has been very involved in state associations, such as the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA). He served as a member of the Joint Legislative Committee of IPRA and the Illinois Association of Park Districts for 22 of 24 years, and was part of the team of park, forest preserve, conservation districts, and special recreation associations that worked to exempt the special recreation levy from the statewide property tax cap.

He has been extensively involved with the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). He served as President of the National Therapeutic Recreation Society and has chaired many task forces, including two that coordinated replies by NRPA to proposed federal regulations. He represented NRPA on all of the three federal advisory committees established by the US Access Board to develop design requirements for recreation sites and facilities. In 2008 he was named a Legend in Parks and Recreation, and has been recognized with numerous national and state awards. He is most proud of the success of the NRPA National Institute on Recreation Inclusion (NIRI).

He enjoys reading court and administrative decisions about the ADA and recreation, and writes and speaks frequently about the application of the ADA to public and private providers of recreation opportunities. In the early 90s he wrote a handbook for ADA compliance by Illinois park districts, and a subsequent handbook for public parks and recreation agencies that was published by NRPA. He is now working on a second edition. He has served as an expert witness for the plaintiff and for the defense in ADA disputes. [updated 12/10]