Lisa Sheppard is the 2013 Gurnee Days Honoree

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Editor: Tammy Matthews

Design: Gina Galinis

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The Gurnee Days Corporation is pleased to announce Lisa Sheppard has been chosen as the 2013 Gurnee Days Honoree. For more than 40 years, the Gurnee Days Corporation has selected a deserving individual or couple to be honored during the annual Gurnee Days celebration. The testimonial dinner honoring Lisa will be held on Thursday, Aug. 8, and it traditionally kicks off the annual Gurnee Days festivities.

Sheppard grew up in Long Grove on one of the few remaining Lake County farms. She is a proud farmer’s daughter of Bernie Weidner and the late Judie Weidner. Beside her father and stepmom, Sherryl, Sheppard’s large family includes five brothers, one sister, two step brothers, four sisters-in-law, one brother-in-law, 13 nieces and nephews, 75 first cousins and a few goddaughters — plus don’t forget two energetic dogs and one grand cat. However, her most important family member is her amazing daughter, Taylor Sheppard.

Sheppard raised her daughter in the Gurnee community where Taylor attended Woodland District 50 Schools and Warren Township High School. She spent countless hours at Taylor’s academic and sporting events. Sheppard coached soccer, t-ball and basketball including recently a wonderful group of seventh-grade girls on the Warren Lady Blue Devils basketball team. Sheppard and Taylor can be seen together on a regular basis participating in the many activities around Gurnee. Although now Taylor is away at college, technology helps keep that inseparable, loving bond between them.

Sheppard had a wonderful, loving relationship with her mom but, unfortunately, Sheppard’s mom passed away from breast cancer. Sheppard turned her sadness into extremely special volunteer events walking twice in the two-day Avon Breast Cancer Walk and once in the three-day Susan G. Komen Cancer Walk.

Graduating from Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein and Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc., Sheppard has a recreation management degree with a minor in business administration. Her degree encompasses her passion — playing, watching, coaching and promoting recreation. Outside of her busy work schedule, she can be found exercising, camping, kayaking, playing volleyball or cheering on her favorite teams. Her favorite quote is: “remember to play!”

Around Gurnee, Sheppard is probably best known as the superintendent of recreation at the Gurnee Park District where she spent more than 15 years shaping and growing the recreational opportunities for the Gurnee community. During those years, an addition was added to the Viking Park Community Center and both the Hunt Club Aquatic Center and the Hunt Club Park Community Center were built. In 2010 under Sheppard’s leadership, the Gurnee Park District received the National Gold Medal Award as well as status as an Illinois Distinguished Accredited Agency. Sheppard played an important role in the Gold Medal application process and took the lead in the Distinguished Agency award. Other outstanding achievements for Sheppard include several state and national recreational honors including IPRA Professional of the Year and the IPRA Marcy Adams Spirit Award. She just recently accepted a promotion as the executive director of the Glencoe Park District.

Being a Superintendent of Recreation is a great responsibility and at the Gurnee Park District, Sheppard supervised more than 400 staff members, managed a $5 million dollar budget and was responsible for the Hunt Club Park Aquatic and Community Center operations. Additionally, community members clocked more than 25,000 volunteer hours annually under her leadership and recreational programs are offered 364 days of the year.

Yet, Sheppard also became extremely involved in numerous organizations in Gurnee. She has taken an active leadership role within these organizations and has been instrumental in their success. Some of her affiliations include: founding member and president of Healthy Communities/Healthy Youth; founding member and executive board of the Woodland Educational Foundation; executive board and three time president of the Gurnee Days Corporation; founding member and treasurer of the Lake County After School Coalition; founding board member of the Northern Illinois Hooper Youth Basketball Club; president, secretary and treasurer of the Suburban Parks and Recreation Association; active member, Eucharistic Minister and CCD teacher at St. Paul the Apostle Church and executive board member with the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.

Sheppard has been a champion in everything she does. She loves spending time with her family — especially her daughter Taylor — but she also devotes numerous hours volunteering in the Gurnee community and the Chicagoland area.

As Gurnee Park District Board vice president Libby Baker said: “Sheppard truly embodies the spirit of community and demonstrates the qualities of a Gurnee Days Honoree.”

She continued to say that Sheppard “is very deserving of this honor. Her contributions to the Village of Gurnee will have a lasting effect on present and future generations.”

Each year, the Gurnee Days Corporation seeks nominations from the community for people who have made a meaningful contribution to make this area a better place to work and live. Gurnee Days Corporation is pleased to have such a devoted person as Sheppard as the 2013 Gurnee Days Honoree and parade marshal. For more information on Gurnee Days, check the GDC website at