A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

A Certified Park and Recreation Professional, Joel M. Dickerson is executive director of the Morton Park District, where he oversees nine full-time employees, 150 part-time seasonal employees, more than 400 acres of parks, and a range of recreational facilities—including a fine arts pavilion, indoor soccer and recreation center, indoor batting facility, pool complex, two disc golf courses, wildlife preserve and a trail system. He led the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has made many technological improvements and facility upgrades during his tenure.

Over the past year, Dickerson worked with community leaders to acquire two new properties for the park district: Ulrich Wildlife Preserve and Lakewood Park. He also oversaw the renovation of the former Horseshoe Park into the new Monarch Park, creating an interactive experience to teach the community about the importance of butterflies and pollinators. He is mindful about creating inclusive spaces for all residents, leading the installation of a face-to-face swing and development of an accessible playground at Idlewood Park, among other projects.

Under Dickerson’s leadership, the Park District has forged strong partnerships with the Village of Morton, Morton School District 709, Morton Chamber of Commerce and Morton Public Library, working together on a multitude of civic projects. He is active in the Morton Rotary Club and serves as a member of the Morton Auxiliary Police, volunteering for special events and emergency response situations. He also sits on the Morton Beautification Committee and Morton Economic Development Committee, in addition to volunteering at the Morton Pumpkin Festival.

For the past five years, Dickerson has served on the board of the Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association, helping to provide recreational opportunities to individuals with disabilities throughout Greater Peoria. He is also a member of the Heart of Illinois Senior Olympics Board and a volunteer staff member of the award-winning Morton High School Marching Band.PM