Association Awards

Nominate someone today for a 2024 Award!

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Questions? Contact Awards Committee Chair Lisa Thompson at

2023 Award Winners!

2023 “William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional
of the Year Award Winner
Mark Stevens, Director, Lisbon Recreation Department

Mark had returned to his hometown an Air Force veteran, and in 1993 was picking up a part-time position on top of his regular job that provided for his young wife and family – organizing football and soccer programs and a father-daughter dance, on a few thousand dollars and many volunteers.
Right now if you stop by the Lisbon Parks & Recreation offices at the MTM Community Center, 18 School Street, Lisbon Falls – you’ll definitely hear the cheers and shrieks of the after school program, home to over a hundred children who otherwise might have no one to flip the lights on at home, no one to listen to stories of their recess snow fort, no one to make them hustle to rebound when they get blocked on a shot playing one-on-one in the gym. These kids tumble off the bus every day into an unused school building that no one wanted that Mark said yes to. That every day and every night of the week burns in the darkness with lights on in its Fitness Center, gymnasium, food pantry, and meeting rooms full of birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, funeral receptions.

Mark will tell you he did not create any of this, he just said yes to it.

Below is a more quantified list of the Department and Mark’s contributions.
• Employment History/Experience: Lisbon Parks & Recreation director since 1993.
• Education and Certification: BS in Recreation from University of Maine, Presque Isle
• Professional Affiliation: longstanding MRPA member
• Leadership Contribution/ Administrative & Program Development/ Strategic Thinking and Planning/Partner and Coalition Building:

Mark has been a wrestling and field hockey coach for over twenty years, winning the US National Wrestling Coach of the year title in 2014. He has been a long-term member of the advisory board of the Lisbon Community Federal Credit Union and an advisor to our local scouting troops. He has developed the Recreation Committee and Conservation Committee for the department to lead the governance of the recreation and parks entities of the department.

“William V. Haskell” Distinguished Professional of the Year Award

William V. Haskell served the MRPA from its inception and was director of the Presque Isle Parks and Recreation Department from 1946-1981.

  • Employment History/Experience:  The nominee should have a minimum of ten years working within the Recreation Field and at least a three-year period should have been within the state of Maine.
  • Education and Certification:  The candidate should have a degree in Recreation, or a related field.  Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have earned higher degrees and/or who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
  • Professional Affiliation:  Candidates must maintain membership in the MRPA.  Any additional affiliations, such as NRPA, will hold value.
  • Leadership Contribution:  Candidates should display qualities of leadership in MRPA and/or NRPA by serving on the Executive Board or by making other professional contributions such as a committee chairperson or committee member.
  • Administrative & Program Development:  Candidate should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level, through innovative programming, facility development and civic involvement
  • Learn More about William Haskell

Recent Winners
2022 – Jen DeRice (Standish Parks & Recreation), 2021 – Robin Cogger (York Parks & Recreation), 2020 – Hillary Hallett (Eastern Recreation), 2019 – Lisa Thompson (Wescustogo Hall & Community Center), 2018 – Karyn MacNeill (Yarmouth), 2017- Debbie Gendreau (Bangor), 2016 – Denise LeBlanc (Skowhegan), 2015 – Linda Brooks (Standish), Tina LeBlanc (Wells), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Steve Balboni (Bath), Marcel Blouin (Sanford), Tracy Willette (Bangor), Deb Smith (South Portland), Michael Martin (Brewer), Doug Beck (Auburn), Eric Seekins (Oakland), Marie Carmichael (Houlton), Don Brewer (Portland), Cindy Hazelton (Gorham), Mike Boies (Woodland), Pam LeDuc (Topsham), Dr. Bill Eckart (UMaine Machias), Norm Poirer (Orono), Ken Hanscom (Brewer), Jim Toner (Waterville), Marcia Noyes (Yarmouth)


2023 “Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award Winner
Alyssa Clark, Lewiston Recreation Department

Alyssa has a combination of professional drive, networking skills, and love of working with the community that any recreation department would be lucky to have. In her short time in Lewiston, she has not only expanded recreation opportunities in the City, but she has also increased participation in standing programs. Through diversifying LRD’s programs, she has solidified positive community partnerships with Lewiston Little League, Lewiston Youth Football, as well as increased relationships with local high school coaches. These efforts have bridged together youth from a variety of community pockets, allowing for a stronger impact from Lewiston Recreation programming. Her phone is always ringing, and it feels like every week, she has made a new connection for the department. She is outgoing and confident.
Although her heart is in youth sports, Alyssa broke out of her comfort zone by securing partnerships that brought free family cooking classes to Lewiston, and has organized Safe Sitter Trainings. Her most recent success included Ugly Sweater BINGO, where the Mayor of Lewiston made an appearance to congratulate her on a job well done. She oversees Lewiston Rec Summer Camp, where she is often boots-on-the-ground with campers and our young staff.
She does all of this with a great sense of humor, ideal when working with the public. Her ability to have a conversation with anyone in a friendly, professional manner is a vital skill for any young professional.

Lewiston is an up and coming City, on its way back to beings a busy and economic hub in the Maine. The work that Alyssa does is helping repair the City, and is extremely impactful to our new-Mainers and youth. When I hired her, I told her that it was going to be an uphill battle for a couple of years, with opportunity to grow something new and different. She took the challenge head on, and the City is a better place because of the work she does every day.

Alyssa currently serves on the Fall Workshop Committee, and ran the 2022 Spring Conference social event.

“Dr. Bill Eckart” Young Professional Award

Dr. William Eckart retired from the University of Maine at Machias in 2011 after 31 years as Professor of Recreation Management. During his tenure, he built the program into one of the most respected programs in the country, and it was Maine’s only nationally accredited recreation degree program. Dr. Eckart was an active member of MRPA, serving as Treasurer on the Board of Directors, spearheading the professional certification program, and managing membership.

  • Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have minimum of three years working within the Recreation Field and at least a two-year period should have been within the state of Maine, with no more than ten years experience.
  • Education: The candidate should have a degree in the field of Recreation, or a related field.  Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation or Therapeutic Recreation.
  • Professional Affiliation:  Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA.  Any additional affiliations will hold value.
  • Program Development:  Candidates should have demonstrated outstanding performance on a community level through innovative programming, partnerships and civic involvement.
  • Professional Involvement:  Candidates should exhibit networking skills, and be involved with local and regional recreational issues and committees within MRPA.

Recent Winners
2022 – Brady Lloyd (Sanford Parks & Recreation), 2021 – Amelia Meier (Saco Parks & Recreation), 2020 – Gary Collello (Bridgton Recreation), 2019 – Erica Dube (Saco Parks & Recreation), 2018 – Tyler Stewart (Old Orchard Beach), 2017 – Jason Hanken (Lewiston). 2016 – Nicole Welch (Old Orchard Beach), 2015 – Julio Santiago (Gorham) Sabrina Best (South Portland), Anthony Johnson (Freeport), Kate Harris (Falmouth), Angela O’Connor (Kennebunkport), Tammy Leger (Kennebunk), Alan Grady (Gorham), Shelly Abbott (Hampden), Jen DeRice (So. Portland), Lucky D’Ascanio (Falmouth), Lisa Thompson (So Portland)


2023 Facilities of Merit Award Winners

No Nominations in 2023

Facilities of Merit Award

  • A significant recreation facility established within the last two years
  • Shows the project overview, design, plan, and priority of need
  • Demonstrates an increase in recreational opportunities – including types of uses
  • Local commitment to the project
  • Accessibility to users
  • Demonstrates innovation and creativity

Recent Winners
2022 – Cornelia Warren Four Season Rink (Westbrook), Riverwoods Preserve (Yarmouth), Scarborough HUB (Scarborough), 2021 – Auburn Senior Center (Auburn), 2020 – The Bangor Municipal Golf Course (Bangor), The Wescustogo Community Center (North Yarmouth), Kennebunkport Parks & Recreation Community Center (Kennebunkport), 2019- Bath Pump Track (Bath) & Bangor Pickleball Courts (Bangor), 2018 – Zorach Fountain (Bath) & John H Rich Jr. & Doris Rich Memorial Beach (Standish), 2017 – Sargent Family Community Center (Presque Isle), 2017 – Bog Road Athletic Complex (York), 2017 – Broad Cove Reserve (Cumberland), Donnabeth Lippman Park (Windham), Mason-Motz Center (Falmouth), “Just for Kids” Community Playgrouond (Houlton), The Waterhouse Center (Kennebunk), Westbrook Community Center (Westbrook), Wainwright Rec. Complex (South Portland), Johnson Field (Standish), Bangor Waterfront (Bangor), Yarmouth Westside Trail (Yarmouth), Bangor Armory (Bangor),The Ballpark (Old Orchard Beach), Saco Community Center (Saco), Gorham Municipal Center (Gorham)


2023 Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award Winner
Kat Hardju, Bridgton Recreation Department

Kat has been a volunteer with Bridgton Rec for almost 11 years. Kat has coached youth baseball, soccer, basketball, and softball for the Bridgton Recreation Department and when needed has coached soccer, and basketball in Sebago for Sebago Recreation. She is a resident of Bridgton and is always willing to help across the Lake Region district. Kat has also coached AAU basketball and indoor soccer over the last few years and has been an example of a model coach.
Kat is always very involved with fundraising outside of athletics, as she raises money for March of Dimes, Breast Cancer Awareness and for Multiple Sclerosis. She is currently the Lake Region Boosters President, a Class Advisor, attends almost every event put on by the school, and is always with a smile on her face in one of the snack shacks.
Kat continues to volunteer for our many needs in our athletic programs, and Town Events like Festival of Lights, and Winter Carnival. She has been so committed to Recreation opportunities she paid her own way to the Fall 2019 Workshop under Friends of Bridgton Rec to learn ways she can contribute even more to the community. She was a member of the Bridgton Recreation Advancement Group, which was responsible for developing the Skate Park and Ham Athletic Complex in Bridgton. She is always willing to give her time to help the community.
Kat is the perfect example of a model volunteer citizen of the Town of Bridgton and represents Lake Region School District for everything you want in a coach, volunteer, and member of the community.

Citizen Volunteer of the Year Award

  • Contributes to the well-being of recreation within the State of Maine
  • A community volunteer who supports the development and creation of recreation programs, facilities or services
  • Is not a paid employee of a department
  • Length of involvement at the local, multi-town, or state level
  • Diversity of involvement, contributions, and achievements
  • Letters of support from the community
  • Civic involvement
  • Moral character

Recent Winners
2022 – Art Dillon (Scarborough), 2021 –  Joe McKenney (Biddeford), 2020 – Ron St. Pierre and David Mansfield (Bangor), 2019 – Lawrence Kovacs (Bath), 2018 – Jamie Dorr (Bath), 2017 – Lynn Hynes (Yarmouth), 2016 – Matt Libby (Bath), Rob Washburn (Skowhegan), Kenny Fickett (Gorham), Ted Hellier (South Portland), Sharri MacDonald & Linda Mailhot (Old Orchard Beach), David Lindemann (Hampden), Keith Gray (Yarmouth), Matthew Schilmoeller (Orono)


2023 Outstanding Parks Professional Award Winner
Robert MacDonald, Wiscasset Parks & Recreation Department

Bob has been an employee of the Town of Wiscasset for the past 31 years, 25 of those serving as the Facilities & Operations Manager for the Parks & Recreation Department/Community Center. Bob’s title has changed over the years, which is only due to his personal and professional skill sets. He has always morphed into what the department has needed to provide the highest level of service to the Town.

Bob is not your typical parks worker; Bob is a Swiss army knife. If you need a Master of Ceremony for events, Bob is your person. If you need a DJ for the Teen Dance, he is on it. If there is an Emergency, Firefighter/EMT Bob is there. If you need a cook for Breakfast with Santa, he is there with his apron on, that is if he has not already volunteered to be Santa. These are just a few examples of what Bob brings to his department outside of the “job description”.

Inside the “job description” his creativity, innovation and willingness to be the first to try something new separates him from the pack. Over the years Bob has saved the Town of Wiscasset tens of thousands of dollars, if not more with his “let me take a crack at it first” mindset.

Outstanding Parks Professional Award

  • Employment History/Experience: The nominee should have a minimum of 10 years working full time in the parks and/or facilities profession and at least a five-year period should have been within the State of Maine.
  • Education: Priority is given to candidates with a degree in Parks & Recreation, or a related field.
  • Additional consideration will be given to those professionals who have become certified in Parks & Recreation (CPRP), Sports Field Management (CSFM), Horticulture (CPH) or certification in related field.
  • Professional Affiliation: Candidates must maintain membership in MRPA. Any additional affiliations will hold value.
  • Professional Involvement: Distinctive leadership as a parks manager, support staff crew leader, park supervisor, or park ranger in which his/her dedicated service has advanced the organization’s mission or vision.

Recent Winners
2022 – Barry Alden (Raymond), 2021 – Kevin Bailey (Windham), 2020 John “Linky” Erskine (South Portland), 2019 – Jay Astle (Brunswick), 2018 – John Kelley (Bangor), 2017 – Rick, Perruzzi (South Portland), 2016 -Zac Wiest (Yarmouth)


Katahdin Award

Selected by the MRPA Board of Directors and presented to a Maine elected official or other Maine citizen (serving at the local, state or federal level) who, through their support of park and recreation services or policies at the Local, State or National level, has significantly enhanced the lives of the people of the State of Maine.

Recent Winners
Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins