(MANHATTAN, Kan. – September 12, 2022) — Chris Curtis, the new recreation superintendent for the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department (MPRD), is hard at work hiring new recreation coordinators and supervisors as the department rebuilds its workforce during fall programming.
Curtis, a familiar face who rejoined the City of Manhattan on August 15, oversees the Recreation Division as it works to provide and create affordable recreational, cultural, educational, and leisure opportunities to benefit and enhance the lives of all citizens in the Manhattan area. He previously served in the same superintendent position here in Manhattan in 2014-2015.
Among other duties, Curtis will work to ensure quality programming for the community by directing the planning, organization, training, and implementation of each activity, while also being responsible for all budgetary implications. He oversees daily operations at the water parks, ice rink, and most recreation facilities, including the Anthony and Eisenhower rec centers.
“I am delighted to have Chris join our team here in Manhattan,” said Wyatt Thompson, interim MPRD director. “Chris is a very friendly, engaging person who will be an asset to this community. He has a deep understanding of recreation best practices, developed over 25-plus years of working in multiple Kansas communities. His extensive experience and professional contacts will be invaluable to us as we strive to re-establish the department, become fully staffed, and expand our seasonal programming going forward.”
Curtis is a Kansas native who has served in a variety of parks and recreational roles with the cities of Concordia, Dodge City, Lawrence, Manhattan, and Salina, as well as Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, throughout his 25-year professional career.
Most recently, he served as recreation superintendent in Dodge City from 2001 to 2008 and in Salina from 2008 to 2014, followed by his first stint as recreation superintendent in Manhattan from August 2014 through September 2015
After two years working in the private sector, Curtis returned to government work in 2017 when he took over as recreation director in nearby Concordia. He then served in a part-time park and facility maintenance role for the City of Salina from 2018 to 2020, when he transitioned to a park planner and project manager position with Shawnee County Parks and Recreation.
Curtis graduated in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kansas State University and a second bachelor’s degree in recreation from Emporia State University in 1997. He holds a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Kansas, which he earned in 2000.
“I am thrilled to return to the Manhattan community and serve its residents,” Curtis said. “This is an exciting opportunity to better tailor our recreational offerings to our community’s needs in a financially responsible and sustainable way. Along the way, we hope to bring some new innovations I have seen work in other communities, as well as brand-new program offerings!”
Curtis replaces Randi Clifford, who retired earlier this year. He is a 25-year member of the Kansas Recreation and Park Association, a 22-year member of the National Recreation and Park Association, and a registered official with the Kansas State High School Activities Association since 1994. He previously held Aquatic Facility Operator and Red Cross CPR/AED certifications.
Curtis is married and has three children. His wife, Kim, is a special education professional with USD 501 in Topeka. His oldest son, Colton, is a mechanical engineer with Altec in the Kansas City area. Logan, his daughter, is a marketing representative with Cancer Care Center of Kansas in Salina and his youngest son, Ben, is a freshman at Washburn University in Topeka.