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Chief Operating Officer of Carmel Clay Parks & Rec Top in Nation

Michael Klitzing (above left), Chief Operating Officer of Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation (CCPR), has received the National Distinguished Professional Award by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the parks and recreation field through leadership, research, advocacy, community outreach and program development. The award ceremony will take place during the NRPA 2018 Annual Conference, Sept. 25-27, 2018, in Indianapolis.

“Michael has been instrumental in expanding and enhancing parks and recreation in the Carmel community,” said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “He is a visionary leader who has transformed Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation into a nationally recognized department receiving numerous awards including the prestigious 2014 National Gold Medal.”

Under Klitzing’s leadership, CCPR obtained its national accreditation in 2014, and the NRPA Barb King Environmental Stewardship Award and NRPA Excellence in Inclusion Award in 2015 and 2016 respectively. During Klitzing’s tenure, CCPR has also won numerous state and regional awards for its innovative facilities and programs, including its commitment to serving people with disabilities.

In 2011, Klitzing was a part of a distinguished group of individuals to take the inaugural Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) exam and successfully earn this prestigious certification. CPRE establishes a national standard for managerial, administrative and executive parks and recreation professionals. This mastery-level credential focuses on the practical knowledge and current real-world skills necessary in today’s changing park and recreation environment.

“Michael is a proven leader and innovator with a passion for advancing parks and recreation,” said Mark Westermeier, Director of CCPR. “We are so lucky to have him as a part of our leadership team.”

Klitzing, who has served Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation since 2004, directed the opening of its $55 million community center and waterpark, initiated a contract to manage the local school district’s before and after school program serving over 2,400 students daily and guided the growth of the department from 40 to nearly 600 employees. His leadership exemplifies entrepreneurial approaches in managing public services and establishing inclusion, sustainability (cost recovery) and innovation as core values of the department.

Klitzing is an active member of NRPA, serving as Chair of the Program Committee for the 2018 Conference. He is a Commissioner on the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation agencies, which is responsible for establishing national standards and best practices for park and recreation systems and accrediting local, state and military agencies. Klitzing is a former member of the Brownsburg Parks Board (2009–2016), serving five years as President, and is a current member of the Lake Lemon Conservancy District Board.

Klitzing was the recipient of the New Professional Award from the American Park and Recreation Society/National Recreation and Park Association. Klitzing is a frequent speaker at state and national conferences and presented at the Smart Cities & Sports Summit 2017 in Montreal, sponsored by the World Union of Olympic Cities. At last year’s NRPA Conference in New Orleans, Klitzing was inducted into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), a national organization comprised of 125 active distinguished practitioners and educators who are leaders in the field of park and recreation.

Klitzing’s education includes a bachelor’s in economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and a master’s in Administration of Parks and Recreation Systems from Southern Illinois University–Carbondale where he was recognized as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.

About Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation

Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation (CCPR) holds the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) for parks serving populations of 75,001 to 150,000. As an accredited agency, the department serves the recreation, fitness and nature needs of the community, manages and develops existing spaces and resources and creates a sustainable future for parks and recreation programs through a financially viable and environmentally conscious parks system. CCPR manages and maintains more than 500 park acres and numerous recreation facilities, including the Monon Community Center and The Waterpark. In addition, CCPR has partnered with Carmel Clay Schools to establish Extended School Enrichment (ESE), a before and after-school care program for K-6 students located at all eleven Carmel elementary schools. The Summer Camp Series is a component of ESE that offers 12 different summer camps accommodating children ages 5-15. For more information, visit

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit

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