Portage Parks hires new superintendent

2010-07-19T20:15:00Z 2010-07-19T21:50:01Z Portage Parks hires new superintendentBy Joyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | A retired Marine and former chief of staff to an assistant U.S. Secretary of Education has been hired to run the Portage Park Department.

The Park Board on Monday voted unanimously to hire Charles C. (Chris) Johnson to head the department. The department has been without a superintendent since February when Clarke Johnson resigned.

Charles Johnson, who retired as the director of parks and recreation in Abingdon, Va., was not present at the meeting. He is expected to begin the new job the first week of August.

"He is very much a team leader," Park Board President Ken Lorenz said, who met with Johnson prior to being hired.

What convinced Lorenz that Johnson would be the right person for the job, he said, was "his stature and he said a few things to me."

Among those things, he said, was his belief in team leadership and his dedication to accountability. Lorenz said Johnson also has experience working with the federal park system.

Johnson spent 22 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a deputy base commander near the Pentagon, a senior aid to the vice chief of naval operations in the PentagonĀ and as chief of staff to the assistant U.S. Secretary of Education prior to running the Virginia park department. It had similarities to Portage's department, including a trails system and community market.

In addition to graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Johnson has degrees from The George Washington University and Marymount University. He also taught at the U.S. Naval Academy.

In a letter attached to his resume, Johnson said he managed a park department with more than 100 employees and a $2 million budget.

Johnson is married with children and plans on moving to Portage.

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