Profiles in Leadership

Profiles in Leadership

Comprising 34 biographies of men and women in the Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame, Profiles in Leadership honors “some of the forgotten giants in this field who have paved the way for today's leaders.”1 In doing so, Profiles in Leadership also provides a history of the public recreation and park movement in America.

Each of the three editors - Charles E. Hartsoe, M. Douglas Sanders, and Meredith Bridgers – has academic, administration, and field experience in the recreation industry. As professionals, they believe that, “Recreation and parks have much to contribute to a healthy, happy, and cohesive society. Understanding the past and the role that individual leaders played is essential to understanding the present and for planning intelligently for the future.”2

Concerned that the younger generations were not aware of the struggles and achievements of the early pioneers of the recreation field, Robert Crawford led a campaign to establish a Recreation Hall of Fame to preserve their history and contributions. In 1987 and 1989 the National Recreation Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports recreation leadership development, programs, and facilities, awarded grants to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to establish a Hall of Fame.3

The Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame was established in 1988 through the leadership of the NRPA and the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA). Located in Ashburn, Virginia at the Ahrens Institute in the NRPA headquarters, the Hall of Fame displays commemorative plaques as a memorial to the recreation leaders who have “enriched our philosophy and enhance our environment.”4

All Hall of Fame nominees must have made both “an outstanding and lasting” contribution to the park and recreation movement and to have done so within the mission of the NRPA.5 Looking for long-term impacts – regardless of race, sex, religion or age – the Hall of Fame honor is awarded posthumously and only after with a minimum of five years has passed since a leader's death.

Profiles in Leadership contains the biographies of the first 34 leaders inducted into the Robert W. Crawford Recreation and Park Hall of Fame. Of these leaders only half were earlier profiled in George D. Butler's Pioneers in Public Recreation. The editors drew their data from not only from Butler's landmark book, but also from John L. Crompton's Twentieth Century Champions of Parks and Recreation, Hilmi Ibrahim's Pioneers in Leisure and Recreation, and several autobiographies.

Besides honoring the early leaders such as Joseph Lee, Luther Gulick, Henry S. Curtis, Howard S. Braucher, and Jane Addams, Profiles in Leadership also includes George Butler, Robert Crawford, Theodore Wirth, and Frederick Law Olmsted, who pioneered Central Park in New York City. The academics Garret Eppley, Charles Brightbill, Harold Meyer, and Edith Ball are also acknowledged for their role in recreation research and teaching.

As Lowell Caneday, the chair of the Hall of Fame Committee at that time, explained, “These members of the Hall of Fame have illumined reality for their contemporaries and for us. They saw the circumstances, often dire, of those around them and worked to improve the settings and the lives of citizens. As lights in dark places, each member brightened the future with the legacy of their work. Their lights still shine brightly years after their direct service has ended.”6

  • 1. Finkleman, Lois G. and Chuck Wilt. Preface. Profiles in Leadership. By Charlie E.Hartsoe, M. Douglas Sanders, and Meredith Bridgers. Champaign: Sagamore Publishing. 2009. p. vii.
  • 2. Hartsoe, Charlie E., M. Douglas Sanders, and Meredith Bridgers. Introduction. Profiles in Leadership. Champaign: Sagamore Publishing. 2009. p. xii.
  • 3. Op.cit., Finkleman.
  • 4. Op.cit., Hartsoe. Introduction. p. xi.
  • 5. Hartsoe, Charlie E., M. Douglas Sanders, and Meredith Bridgers. Selection Criteria. Profiles in Leadership. Champaign: Sagamore Publishing. 2009. p. xiii.
  • 6. Candeay, Lowell. Epilogue. Profiles in Leadership. By Charlie E. Hartsoe, M. Douglas Sanders, and Meredith Bridgers. Champaign: Sagamore Publishing. 2009. p. 141.