Chris Riley, former Decatur Park Board Commissioner received the Robert M. Artz Advocate Award by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The award was presented during the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference, Sept. 24–26, 2019, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Each year, NRPA Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals across the U.S. to honor their efforts—both professional and personal—in the field of parks and recreation. This year there are four award categories in NRPA’s Spotlight Awards program. Recipients are selected from a pool of applicants by NRPA’s National Awards and Scholarship Committee, and are chosen for excellence in a variety of topics, including professional and voluntary service, programming, leadership, research and public outreach.

The Robert M. Artz Award recognizes an advocate, an elected or appointed official, or volunteer who has demonstrated outstanding efforts to forward public parks and recreation through education and activating the public in their community, state or at the national level.

For 18 years, Decatur Park Board Commissioner Chris Riley has been a shining example of the vast opportunities and positive influences Parks & Recreation can have over one’s lifetime. While his professional role is that of Director of State and Government Relations at Archer Daniels Midland Company (a Fortune 50 company and global agribusiness leader), Riley also served on the IAPD Board of Directors, was 2005 winner of the IAPD Rising Star Award, and served as co-host of the Decatur Park District’s “Parks at 5” weekly radio show for 8 years.

In 2010, Chris and his wife, Karen endowed the The Jerry Menz Arts Scholarship which provides opportunities for talented youth to succeed at the highest possible levels in the arts by offering scholarships for programs in voice, music, theatre and dance. The scholarship is in honor of Chris’s mentor, Jerry Menz, who served as Decatur Park District Director of Recreation from 1961 – 1993.  The couple continues to support this scholarship with additional gifts and fundraising efforts.

With his leadership, the Decatur Park District has thrived, and the decisions he helped make have set the district up for long term success.   With an AZA-accredited zoo, stabilizing air service at our Park District owned airport, nationally recognized arts programs, an exciting new Lakeshore Landing development, award-winning golf courses, miles of scenic trails, and recreational activities for all ages and abilities, the parks are integral to our community’s quality of life. Finally, we are actively engaged in efforts to enhance tourism and economic development. Chris Riley has helped the Decatur Park District proudly contribute to the social, environmental, and economic viability and sustainability of the greater Decatur community.

“His community and legislative advocacy for the park system goes where he goes, and is unmatched.  Chris has the ultimate goal of improving the quality and economic well-being of life for those who live, work and play in Decatur & Macon County as well as those who visit,” stated Bill Clevenger, Executive Director of the Decatur Park District.

“The NRPA National Awards and Scholarship Committee is pleased to honor the 2019 NRPA recipients of Spotlight, Scholarship and Fellowship awards”, said Dan Olson, chair of NRPA’s national awards and scholarship committee and director of operations for Champaign Park District in Champaign, Illinois. “The committee was honored to review nearly 70 applications of qualified individuals who have made significant contributions to their communities through the field of parks and recreation.”

For more information about NRPA Awards visit

The National Recreation and Park Association

is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity. Through its network of 60,000 recreation and park professionals and advocates, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit