Bloomingdale (Ill.) Park District Carrie Haupert-Fullerton had some big shoes to fill when she got a job working at the front desk of her local pool, and helping with special events. She was 15 and her stepfather, Walter Johnson, now retired, has long been a respected industry leader.

Now 43, Haupert-Fullerton has followed his example well, becoming a leader in her own right.

“The pool is the one universal amenity that parks and recreation offers where just about everyone can find something to do, at very age and every point in life,” says the executive director of the Bloomingdale (Ill.) Park District.

That perspective is perhaps the biggest reason Haupert-Fullerton continues to advocate the importance of aquatics as a recreation amenity, even in the face of budget cuts.

She says aquatics, and what consumers expect, has changed a lot since she was a teenage pool employee and her stepfather was in the industry. But water still “has a way of bringing people together.”

Haupert-Fullerton is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She grew up in Illinois and is the past chair of the Illinois Park and Recreation Association.

A good team, solid mentors and passion for what she does have been her recipe for success thus far. Those ingredients are likely to carry her a long way as she looks to the future.

Today, one thing that Haupert-Fullerton hopes to encourage is championing aquatics as a vital part of physical fitness, and addressing youth obesity.

“My overall dream is to create healthy communities, and the swimming pool is a huge piece of a healthy community,” she says.