City Club of Chicago: Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO Mike Kelly
May 1, 2019
Chicago Park District: Celebrating 85 Years of Service – Mike Kelly, CEO & Superintendent
Serving as Chicago Park District General Superintendent & CEO since 2011, Kelly is responsible for a $464 million urban park system that serves all 77 of Chicago’s neighborhoods, with more than 600 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, more than 50 nature areas, 12 museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons and more than 8,800 acres of parkland, as well as historic Soldier Field.
Superintendent Kelly is a passionate supporter of open space and improving the quality of life for Chicago residents through parks and recreation opportunities. He measures success by the number of children served, and under his direction the Chicago Park District has seen exponential growth in registrations for award winning programs such as “Learn to Swim,” summer day camp, gymnastics and programming for young residents with special needs.
Kelly oversaw the development and completion of signature capital projects – including the creation of Maggie Daley Park, the renovation of Theater on the Lake and the Lakefront Trail Separation project. Current projects include the world-class indoor track and field facility on the South Side at Gately Park, as well as the Exelon Student Recreation Center at Addams Park on the West Side. He led the acquisition of more than 1,000 acres of parkland, along with the building and renovation of 377 playgrounds.
Under Kelly’s leadership, the Chicago Park District has earned various awards and recognitions including the 2014 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and two successive accreditations by the NRPA’s Commission for Accreditation of Park Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). He serves on the NRPRA’s board of directors and was recently elected chair of the organization’s board starting in 2020 – the first Chicago Park District chief to be selected for the position. The NRPA provides frameworks for recreation agencies throughout the country to measure their performance.
A native Chicagoan, born and raised on the city’s South Side, Kelly earned a JD from the DePaul College of Law in Chicago, and a BA in Political Science from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is married, and the father of four children. Kelly and his family reside in the West Morgan Park community of Chicago.