Claudia Freeman received recognition as the honoree for Arts and Culture at the YWCA of Lake County’s 35th Annual Women of Achievement Awards Dinner on Friday, May 31, 2013 at the Deerfield Hyatt. Ms. Freeman with more than 30 years of experience as a parks and recreation professional has served as the Superintendent of Cultural Arts for the Waukegan Park District since 2004. Under her leadership, the Cultural Arts Division has been the recipient of national, state, and local recognition for leadership and excellence in the arts.
In 2013, Freeman was recognized personally with the statewide Community Impact Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Illinois Park and Recreation Association. Cited were her achievements with the Illinois Arts Council, Arts Alliance Illinois, Waukegan Arts Council, and multiple partnerships with emerging arts organizations. Claudia actively promotes local artists, arts organizations, and collaborative projects and is a founding member of the new Waukegan Arts Council and chair of its education committee. Summer Arts in the Parks won the prestigious 2012 National Recreation and Park Association Dorothy Mullen Arts and Humanities Award. Summer Arts in the Parks, an outgrowth of Claudia’s work with Chicago Wilderness on the “No Child Left Inside” initiative, moved programs that combined play, art and culture outdoors and into neighborhood parks. The move to neighborhood parks increased accessibility and participation as well as personalized the experience for Waukegan families. The Dorothy Mullen Award recognized the innovative relationships and practices established by Ms Freeman and her team as models for other parks and recreation agencies. The Cultural Arts Division, under Freeman’s leadership, was awarded the Illinois Association of Park Districts’ Arts in the Park Award in 2011 recognizing the wide range and depth of cultural arts programs, best practices and excellence.
The Cultural Arts Division is home to the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus, Bowen Park Theatre Company, Waukegan History Museum, Jack Benny Center for the Arts, and Bowen Heritage Circle. Freeman serves as the District’s liaison to the Waukegan Historical Society and Waukegan Harbor Citizens’ Advisory Group.
Ms Freeman has a B.S. from George Williams College in Recreation Administration and a Masters in Urban Parks and Environmental Resource Administration from Aurora University.