By Marty Farmer
Diane Stanke, the marketing, customer service and a little bit of everything else director at the Park District of Oak Park, is, after 12 years, well-respected and much admired within the park district and Oak Park community. And now she has the statewide honor to go with the local adulation.
Stanke was presented the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association's Community Impact Award at a luncheon Jan. 24 at the annual conference of the group. The award is given annually to one Illinois Parks and Recreation professional who has made a significant impact in the community they serve.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who gave the opening address, State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (D-Chicago) attended the luncheon as guests of the Park District of Oak Park. Several members of Stanke's family also attended the event including her children Emily and Zach, and sister Donna.
"I was truly surprised and amazed to win the Community Impact Award," Stanke said. "It's truly been an honor and privilege for me to serve the Oak Park community through my work at the park district. Through the years, I've met so many incredible people and my job is so fulfilling."
Jan Arnold, the park district's executive director, nominated Stanke in recognition of her service to the Oak Park community.
"Diane really believes in what she does, and it shows," Arnold said. "She is always a voice for inclusion at our meetings, and she's helped shape the future of Oak Park's parks one by one and as a whole. Each day she demonstrates her commitment to making Oak Park a better place to live, work and play."
Stanke, who has worked at the park district for 12 years, has been involved in all aspects of the overhaul of the local parks over the past decade.
In addition to overseeing marketing and communications, she has taken on responsibilities as project manager for the park district's initial comprehensive master plan process in 2004 (Stanke will reprise that role in 2014), community liaison for the district's Citizen Committee, project manager of the five events that celebrated the park district's 100th anniversary campaign, among many other contributions.
She has also assumed a major role in the 20 park master plans in Oak Park. Since 2005, Stanke has been heavily involved with the process and completion of each master plan, handling assorted duties like crafting grant applications, organizing community meetings and planning park re-openings.
"Diane is such an asset to the park district and Oak Park community," said former board president Marty Bracco. "She consistently goes above and beyond to best meet the needs of our residents, from public outreach and communication to grant applications to park re-openings and celebrations. Whether it's the park board requesting her leadership on a project, her executive director or the staff, Diane is the person to call to get it done and guide you through."
In addition to Stanke's award, the park district received several honors at the IAPD/IPRA luncheon, including the Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency (highest accreditation possible for a park district) and the "Exceptional Workplace Award," which recognizes efforts to support employee health and wellness,
The park district also earned three awards in the Illinois Agency Showcase for Website Design (first place), Logo Design (second) and Marketing Campaign (second).