McMillan, who is the governing body’s liaison to the township’s parks and recreation committee, said the presidency “is a great honor for Dawn.”
“Dawn is a leader and a visionary, not only with activities in Neptune but throughout the state and I know she does a fantastic job,” he said.
McMillan said recreation is very important for the young people of Neptune and that Thompson’s innovative programs help get them out of a sedentary lifestyle into one that leads to activities with positive health benefits.
“She works with young people to get them out instead of playing video games that have no personal interaction. She teaches them teamwork and creates opportunities for our youth to improve their health and academics. She also tries to involve their parents,” he said.
And Thompson said she is looking forward to her new role in the association.
“I am very excited to be president and I have always volunteered for the NIRPA. I have served on its board for a number of years and now I am just switching hats. I will continue to volunteer but just in a different way now,” she said.
Thompson said her biggest challenge is to help increase parks and recreational opportunities throughout the state and get more volunteers to keep things going. The NJRPA has about 450 members made up of park and recreational professionals, interested citizens, sports groups, and commercial businesses.
“We interact with all of these different groups,” she said.
About 75 people, including members of the NJRPA, Neptune officials, and family members were on hand for Thompson’s induction ceremony held Friday, May 6 at the new Shark River Hills municipal marina on Riverside Drive in Neptune.
The NJRPA is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting parks and recreation; enhancing the professional development of its members; advocating sound policy and stewardship related to parks, recreation, resource management, and leisure services; and increasing awareness of the value of play and preservation of the environment to interested citizens and the public.
Thompson has been actively involved in the NJRPA since 1986 and she was also its president in 2005-2006. Her new term as president officially begins July 1.