FVSRA Executive Director Retires after 26 Years

Thu March 14, 2019

Aurora, IL- After 26 years as the leader of the Fox Valley Special Recreation Association (FVSRA), Executive Director Carolyn Nagle, has announced that she is retiring on April 30th. Nagle joined FVSRA in April of 1992 when the agency included only four park districts and a full-time staff of ten. Under Nagle’s leadership, FVSRA has expanded the original districts (Fox Valley, St. Charles, Geneva, and Batavia) to now include Oswegoland and Sugar Grove Park Districts and the Village of South Elgin Parks and Recreation Department. Today Nagle oversees a full-time staff of 18 and over 290 part-time staff, providing over 500 programs and serving over 1600 children and adults with disabilities on a year-round basis.

Nagle graduated from Illinois State University with a BS degree in Recreation and Park Administration and then earned a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Nagle’s early career included the Galesburg Mental Health Center, the City of Bloomington, the Heart of Illinois Special Olympics, the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association and for the past 26 years, FVSRA has been her home.

Through the years, Nagle has supervised countless interns and full-time staff, assisted in the design and relocation of the agency office in the North Aurora Activity Center to the Vaughan Athletic Center, oversaw the development of the Foundation and recruitment of Board Members, and created the Annual BBQ and Basket Raffle and the Northern Nights, Trees, and Lights fundraisers. The Annual Recognition Banquet and the Day in the Park Special events have become long-time participant favorites for over 20 plus years. One of her favorite and unique roles for the Executive Director is to serve as the Kiwanis liaison to the FVSRA AKtion Club. As a member of the Aurora Kiwanis, Nagle and FVSRA formed the first Chartered Kiwanis Aktion Club in Illinois in 2002. She has seen the Club grow from the initial membership of 16 to over 46 members today.

Nagle’s involvement extended beyond the services of FVSRA and included professional contributions such as serving as the Director of the Illinois Therapeutic Recreation Section (ITRS), a board member of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association (IPRA), Chair of the National Certification Board of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), Chair of the IPRA Long Range Planning Committee, and a two-term member on the National Therapeutic Recreation Society Board (NTRS) of Directors. She has been recognized with several honors including the IPRA Robert Artz Lifetime Achievement Award, induction into the Illinois State University College of Applied Science and Technology Hall of Fame, Presidential Awards from the National Therapeutic Recreation Society and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association, the Tri-City Family Services Barth Award Nominee, contributions to Illinois Special Olympics as an Area Coordinator, and for 25 Years of Exceptional Service to FVSRA. Nagle was integral to the coordinated efforts of the Special Recreation Association Directors and State Legislators to secure passage of legislation in 2003 to enhance funding for SRAs.

Under Nagle’s leadership, FVSRA was recognized as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency, earned Accreditation status for the Park District Risk Management Agency Loss Control Review Program and saw the creation and implementation of a 5-Year Strategic Plan to guide the Association through 2021. She oversaw the creation of the three Day Break (Adult Day Service) and guided the teams to develop the collaboration between FVSRA and the Association for Individual Development to create the five STARS Adult Day Program sites. Most recently the new Sensory Room, an initiative of the Foundation and funded through contributions from the Geneva and Fox Valley 100 Women Who Care, officially opened on February 4th.

FVSRA has truly been and will always be a very special place to Nagle. Seeing the agency grow both in geographic size and the number and variety of program opportunities for our participants has been an amazing experience. Watching participants grow from preschoolers to adulthood and knowing the impact that FVSRA services have provided leaves Nagle with a great deal of satisfaction. While she is looking forward to her retirement, she will miss the participants, families and the truly amazing Team who have all become her family. The Member Agencies, their staff, the communities, Kiwanis Clubs of Aurora and St. Charles and the many professionals with whom she has worked over the years, have all truly contributed to her ability to enrich the lives of people with disabilities over the last 26 years with FVSRA.

While she knows her retirement will be an adjustment, she is looking forward to spending more time with family, is hoping for some grandchildren, planning to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House, traveling, spending time with friends, reading, and doing whatever she “prefers”.

A farewell celebration will be held on April 24, 2019, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM in the FVSRA Multipurpose room. All participants, families, co-workers and well-wishers are welcome to attend.