Recipient Biography

William Mitchell


William Mitchell, better known as Bill, was born in Wilmington, Delaware area, and later moved to upstate New York. Bill’s parents, both Cornell graduates, raised Bill and his two brothers on their dairy farm in New York. Bill was a high school athlete excelling in basketball.

After high school graduation, Bill joined the Air Force and travelled extensively while touring with the Air Force basketball team. He was also trained and became an air traffic controller. After his military service, Bill attended the University of Maryland and obtained his BA in Parks and Recreation.

Bill’s professional career began as the Aquatics Director at the Prince George County Recreation department. Bill served as the City of Bethlehem Recreation Administrator prior to becoming the Director of Parks and Recreation for Howard County Maryland. During Bill’s 15 years of service in Howard County, he was responsible for adding extensive open space and park development. He also was involved in implementing their initial master plan which included large land acquisitions. Much of the current Howard County Park system was developed during his 15- year tenure. During this time, he was responsible for the construction of 18 parks, ranging in size from 1 acre to 325 acres, 13 miles of bike paths, 3 community gardens, 2 historic sites and the review of over 3,000 subdivision plans for open space, floor plain and steep slope dedication.

In 1989, Bill Mitchell, a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, became the Executive Director of the Bucks County Pennsylvania Department of Parks and Recreation. Bill held the post until his recent retirement in May 2021. Upon retiring, the county named the department’s headquarters in his honor. Bill spent his entire career in Howard and Bucks County pursuing land conservation and acquisition. Before he left Bucks County, he had acquired over 3,000 acres of new park land insuring open space for generations to come. In Howard County, the major emphasis was the acquisition and development of land for county community and stream valley parks.

In Bucks County, land acquisition included protecting the banks of the Delaware River, banks of the Lehigh and Delaware canal preserving a portion of the last undistributed coastal plain forest, swam and unglaciated bog in the southeastern Pennsylvania, steep slope, floor plain, and meadow parcels within existing and proposed parks. He was responsible in large parts for saving historic properties including the Moravian Pottery and the historic Tile Works and a working water mill.

Bill Mitchell was also affiliated with a number of important organization and groups during his career. Bill was appointed by Secretary of Interior Babbitt as a Commissioner on the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and continues to serve on that group. He was a member of the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies from 1991 to 1999. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials from 1982 to present and served as President of the group from 1990-1991. Bill was also Chairman of the Maryland State Department of Education Advisory Committee for Adults and Community Services. He was Chairman of the NRPA Mid Atlantic Regional Council from 1995 to 1996 and President of the Maryland Recreation and Parks Association from 1982 – 1983.

Bill Mitchell became a member of the Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration 15 years ago and has served as the Chairman of the Membership Committee and as the President of the Academy Foundation. Bill is a Certified Leisure Professional and Member of the Pennsylvania Recreation and Parks Society and a variety of other local organizations.

During his career, Bill Mitchell always made himself available, especially for any congregational or legislative meetings. Whenever Bill received a call from Barry Tindal, he was ready to respond and assist our professional organization. Bill is indeed a professional’s professional, always striving to give back more to his community.