Michelle Tuft, the Skokie Park District’s superintendent of recreation and facilities, was named today as the award-winning district’s new executive director. She will begin directing the comprehensive management, planning and operation of the public agency upon the retirement of executive director John Ohrlund on December 28. Ohrlund has guided the district since 2012.
“Michelle will provide a superior level of creativity, sensitivity, community knowledge and passion as the district’s new executive director,” said board of commissioners president Mike Reid. “The board is confident that with her wealth of experience and highest degree of professionalism, she will lead the district into a dynamic future, as it continues to serve the diverse needs of Skokie’s residents. We are exceptionally fortunate to keep Michelle here in Skokie. The board looks forward to working with her for many years to come.”
Tuft has worked as the district’s superintendent of recreation and facilities since 2012, after serving as its superintendent of recreation from 2006 to 2012. She was an integral part of administrating the district during the modernization of many of the district’s 12 facilities over the past decade. Tuft also was instrumental in creating the district’s largest event, Skokie’s Backlot Bash, an event that she has chaired since its inception in 2007. She also served as the chair of the iconic Skokie Festival of Cultures from 2007 to 2012. She previously worked as the facility manager of the district’s Weber Leisure Center and its Oakton Community Center, after recreation supervisor stints at three other suburban park districts in the 1990s.
Tuft received her bachelor’s degree in leisure studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is recognized as a certified park and recreation executive (CPRE) by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), and is a member of the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) and NRPA, having served the national association as an exam committee member.
Tuft has also served as the district’s Freedom of Information Act officer, as a past president of the Rotary Club of Skokie Valley, as a past member of the Illinois Arts Council Ethnic & Folk Arts grant selection committee, and as a past committee member of the University of Illinois Alumni Board. She is also Open Meetings Act certified by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to enjoying the many offerings of the Skokie Park District, Tuft is an avid Cubs fan. She also enjoys biking, gardening, reading, pottery and traveling with her partner Max and their friends.