Public reception for retiring leader of Park and Recreation planned for next week

Kevin PowellParks & Recreation

A reception for Ernie Shaw, who is retiring as leader of Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department after 42 years of service to the City, will be held 4-6 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at Sports Pavilion Lawrence, 100 Rock Chalk Lane. A short program will begin approximately at 5:10 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public.

Shaw began his career with the City in 1975 after graduating from Pittsburg State University with a degree in parks and recreation management. Over the next four decades, Shaw held several positions within the department from sports supervisor to assistant director. In 2007, he assumed the duties of director when Fred DeVictor retired.

During his tenure overseeing the department, Shaw guided the department through the construction of Sports Pavilion Lawrence, a facility he sees as a game-changer for improving the health and wellness of the community when combined with the City’s numerous recreational and economic opportunities.

During his time at the helm of the department, it has been honored with many awards and recognition for its work in the areas of health, wellness and overall management of parks and recreation services. In 2015, the department was a National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Award finalist, which was the third time in the department’s history it had achieved the honor. Previously, it had been recognized with the award in 1997 and 1998.

Parks and Recreation, along with its community partners, received the BlueCHIP Award in 2011, 2013 and 2016, which was awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and the Kansas Recreation and Park Association. The award recognizes Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and community involvement. The department was also the recipient of the Governor’s Council on Fitness Health Champion Award in 2013.

Shaw holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Kansas, which he earned in 1988. He is a two-time past president of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association and has received its Distinguished Service Professional Award and Distinguished Fellow Award. He’s been an active member of the Kansas City Metro Parks and Recreation Directors Association, serving in a number of officer positions, including president. He has served on committees of the National Recreation and Park Association and has also served on local boards, including the original board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County in which the first director was hired. He also is a lifetime member of the Lawrence Lunch Optimist. In all of his local board service, he provided leadership in officer positions, including president. Shaw has also been an active participant in his church and has coached a number of youth sports teams over the years.