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NDRPA Webinar: Making It a Smooth Transition: Public Accessibility for Transgender Populations

March 29, 2022 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Equality and inclusiveness have become priorities within society, including the accessibility and acceptance of the transgender population within the park and recreation industry. This webinar will cover the ever-changing dynamics of legal matters pertaining to public accessibility and employment. Mike Clark, executive director for the Palatine (Ill.) Park District, will share best practices for professionals with regard to developing an all-inclusive workplace and public spaces. He’ll also present on policy development, staff training and facility assessment. Sophie Michaels will share her personal struggles and life experiences as a transgender person and talk about awareness, acceptance, inclusion, and advocacy for transgender populations and how we can improve serving these individuals in a respectful and effective manner.


Date/Time: March 29, 10:30 a.m. – noon CT

Registration: Registration is closed. For questions, contact the NDRPA office at 701-355-4458.

Platform: Zoom

Recording:  The webinar will be recorded and provided to registrants for 60 days following the webinar.


Mike Clark                                          Sophie Michaels

Mike Clark is the executive director for the Palatine (Ill.) Park District, a northwest suburb of Chicago serving approximately 83,000 residents. Clark has been in the Illinois park and recreation industry for the past 28 years. He is a past chairman for the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and the IPRA Foundation, and in 2015 was an inductee into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. In January, Clark was honored with the Robert M. Artz Lifetime Achievement Award by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.

Clark has authored several articles for various industry publications and has spoken at various national, state and local conferences, workshops and schools, including NRPA, Athletic Business Conference, Indiana Executive Development School and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. The Palatine Park District and High School District were one of the first communities to have a federal court case considered regarding transgender individuals’ access to public locker rooms and other privacy-type of facilities. Clark has conducted and been involved with extensive research on this topic and developed policies, best practices, staff trainings and facility accommodations to ensure equal and appropriate access to public facilities for all regardless of gender identity.

Sophie Michaels is an openly transgender woman (MTF – male to female), who has been living full-time for many years now. Since 2017, Michaels has been speaking to students and professionals – at various state and national conferences, staff (training) meetings, college classrooms, etc., including the NRPA, IPELRA, and IPRA Conferences – about her struggles, challenges and life experiences. She also shares insight and advice for a better understanding of the transgender population. Her concern is the access to public facilities for transgender individuals, patrons and employees alike. In 2020, Michaels became an IPRA Diversity Task Force member and LGBTQ+ “Safe Zone Conversation” facilitator, where her mission is to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to businesses and communities so that everyone has the same opportunities and privileges. Her passion is to advocate and educate, so that those who follow will have a better life than she has had.

Michaels earned a B.A. degree in Mathematics from Eastern Illinois University, where she was the recipient of the Estelle Ruth O’Brien Scholarship in Mathematics. For this achievement, she was also inducted into the Mathematics Honorary Society, Kappa Mu Epsilon.


March 29, 2022
10:30 am - 12:00 pm