Improving quality of life in his community through parks and recreation has been David Johnson’s mission for more than 40 years.
A Schaumburg Park District commissioner since 1973, Johnson was recognized for that commitment on Jan. 20 when he was named Commissioner of the Year by the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association during the Soaring to Heights Conference in Chicago.
“Dave is a visionary leader in parks and recreation who worked tirelessly to propel the Schaumburg Park District through a time of significant growth and development,” said Tony LaFrenere, executive director for the District. “His efforts have played a major role in the success and quality programs of the District today.”
Johnson moved to Schaumburg with his family in 1968, and has seen the District progress from two neighborhood centers and an outdoor pool in the early 1970s to an innovative organization boasting 15 major facilities, 110 parks and more than 1,000 programs and events annually.
Among his proudest achievements with the District is the acquisition of land that would eventually become the 135-acre Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary and Volkening Heritage Farm. In 1990s, Johnson worked to relocate an 1880s barn that was once part of a Schaumburg farmstead to its present location on the farm. The project involved a literal community “barn raising” with residents chosen by lottery to help resurrect this piece of local history.
Johnson credits the District’s accomplishments to teamwork and collaboration with his fellow commissioners, fiscal responsibility and accountability and dedicated staff as keys to the District’s success and numerous state and national awards, including three Gold Medals from the National Recreation and Park Association.
Johnson is a steadfast civic volunteer who also serves on the Village of Schaumburg’s Airport Commission, Sister Cities Association and Bikeways Committee, and is an active member of Spring Valley Nature Club and Schaumburg Community Garden Club.
Helping others and paying-it-forward is a hallmark of Johnson’s life. As a 36-year member of the Schaumburg Park Foundation, he generously gives his time, guidance and talent to raising funds for recreation scholarships for underprivileged children and families. He pitches in at every Foundation event—directing traffic, selling raffle tickets, working registration and lending a hand wherever needed.
Johnson’s years of public service have been supported by his wife, Carol, and their three children – James, Darrin and Dayna. Dave and Carol also enjoy their eight grandchildren with whom they share their love of nature and community.
The District is proud of the achievements and accomplishments of Johnson, an exemplary, hardworking public servant who embodies the spirit and tradition of IAPD’s Commissioner of the Year Award.
“Dave’s advocacy for creating recreation opportunities in Schaumburg will be his legacy,” LaFrenere said. “His foresight for preserving open spaces and protecting natural areas is something that will benefit future generations for years to come.”