At the annual meeting of the Midwest Institute of Park Executives (MIPE) held on January 9, 2020, Kristi Solberg, Assistant Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at the Park Ridge Park District, was presented the Park Professional of the Year award. This is the most prestigious honor a member of MIPE can receive. Kristi is the first female to receive this award in the 82 year history of the organization. Additionally, this recognition is not awarded every year, but rather only when a worthy candidate is presented. The last time the award was given was in 2014.
Kristi was promoted to the newly created Assistant Superintendent role at the District in the beginning of 2019. This award recognizes for her success in her new role overseeing facility maintenance as well as her accomplishments in advancing natural lawn care in the industry. Since joining the Park Ridge Park District in November 2015, Kristi has shifted the District’s lawn care maintenance to practices that are more natural and minimize the use of synthetic products. These practices include a combination and balance of: impactful aeration, efficient plant feeding, superior grass selection, proper water management, and easier mowing. Changes she implemented has enabled the District to nearly eliminate the use of any synthetic products in our parks. She has also been cited as the “best in our industry” by Midwest Grows Green, an organization who regularly communicates with over 275 lawn care managers in the Chicagoland region. Kristi has taken the time to meet individually with staff from other park districts to share her knowledge. In addition, she has been invited to speak at several conferences, both in and out of state, and is currently working with Midwest Grows Green to develop a “tool kit” of knowledge that can be used by others who want to embrace a more natural approach to lawn care. The Professional of the Year award further recognizes her leadership in this area.
The Park Ridge Park District congratulates Kristi Solberg and her contributions that have resulted in making Park Ridge a safer place to play.
MIPE is a professional networking organization of more than 350 parks and grounds professionals from the Great Lakes Region who are employed by public parks, gardens, forest preserves, conservation districts and recreation agencies. The organization promotes education and cooperation amongst parks, recreation, and grounds professionals since 1938.