He accepted a position as a college intern in 1986 with the Naval Station Great Lakes, and since then, John Prue, installation program director of fleet readiness, has been developing, planning, operating and maintaining Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) facilities and activities for more than 25,000 Navy personnel, their family members, retirees and other eligible patrons in the immediate area. He also plans and organizes community special events, such as an internationally recognized, open-to-the-public Fourth of July Celebration that draws more than 40,000 attendees, and oversees a hotel and lodging program that serves Department of Defense travelers and temporarily assigned military personnel. Prue maintains affiliations with several international associations and serves as the United States Navy Representative to NRPA’s Armed Forces Recreation Network. He received a master’s degree in management from Webster University (1994), a bachelor’s in parks and recreation administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (1986) and has been the recipient of several professional awards. Parks & Recreation recently had the opportunity to learn a bit more about Prue’s work and personal life — below is our conversation.
Parks & Recreation magazine: What five words best describe you?
John Prue: Driven, determined, dedicated, unpredictable and (a little) sarcastic.
P&R: During the course of your career as installation program director, what has been your greatest achievement and how has it shaped you?
Prue: My greatest achievement was actually getting my master’s degree in 1994 from Webster University. I was working full-time and finishing up my thesis and final presentation with a brand new baby at home, who happened to come three weeks early at that! Bottom line: the graduate degree was a powerful learning outcome in my career, and I used that newfound knowledge and experience to immediately make positive impacts to my work with MWR and as a professional in our industry.
P&R: What is most interesting about your work?
Prue: I think the most interesting thing for me working here at Naval Station Great Lakes is the sailors that I meet. We are the Navy’s only “boot camp” and approximately 38,000 recruits each year start their career and train on our base. From the young sailors to our senior enlisted and officers, there is a true dedication to duty and professionalism that you just would not imagine. Meeting these military members (and their dedicated families, as well) makes me proud as an American and also glad that I’m serving them with our MWR programs and services.
P&R: What has been your greatest challenge(s)?
Prue: As much as we try to function like a normal business, the “bureaucracy” can be a challenge at times. In fact, we are the government (local, state or federal), and there will always be some of that, as a part of the job!
P&R: The MWR Department at Naval Station-Great Lakes was the first military installation to win the coveted National Gold Medal Award and the Great Lakes MWR team also currently holds the Commander Navy Installations Command (CNIC) 5-Star Accreditation, which exemplify the highest standards of MWR programming. What has been the key to your success?
Prue: [It’s] about teamwork and good people. I have always had a tremendous group of talented staff members who make things happen each and every day. Their focus on the sailors/families drives what they do and with good communication and teamwork, great things can happen to any organization!
P&R: When not on the clock, what’s your favorite way to unwind and why?
Prue: I actually like to get outdoors and play golf but never seem to have the time, so my real answer is cooking! My son is a senior in college and is on the track and field team, so an occasional 5-hour track meet with my wife, in God knows what kind of weather, is actually enjoyable, after all these years. Finally, I’m a huge Green Bay Packer fan and go to many games!
— Sonia Myrick, Managing Editor of Parks & Recreation magazine