Age 36 | Director, Des Moines park and recreation

Benjamin Page knew pretty early on that he wanted to work in local government.

After a brief stint working for his father as a house painter, Page took a job as a groundskeeper at a local park. He soon fell in love with the work and eventually studied leisure services at the University of Northern Iowa.

In November 2012, Page was appointed Des Moines’ park and recreation director after working for the city for almost six years. His list of responsibilities is pretty lengthy.

In addition to overseeing his department’s $15.8 million budget, he is in charge of taking care of 76 parks, 42 miles of paved trails, three golf courses, five aquatic centers, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park, the Principal Riverwalk, Principal Park, Blank Park Zoo, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, city municipal buildings and recreational programming, seven cemeteries, sports complexes and Brenton Skating Plaza.

And Page does it with 86 full-time employees, down significantly from the 147 people who were on the department’s full-time payroll when he first began working for the city.

He’s not complaining. Page said Des Moines’ parks and trails are what make the city great. “Every recent award we’ve gotten, you see pictures of people on the trails or Gray’s Lake,” he said.

As part of his position with the city, Page sits on a number of boards, including Blank Park Zoo Foundation, First Tee of Greater Des Moines, and the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau Sports Commission.

“He has great skill as a manager, as a partner, as a bureaucrat (in every good sense of that word) and as a shepherd of the people’s money,” wrote Michael Gartner, owner of the Iowa Cubs.

So what does Page do when he’s not working? He and his family take part in the city’s recreational programming, of course. He said his children, Sophia, 8, and Bryce, 5, swim and play basketball, while he and his wife, Kim, play softball and golf..


Five reasons he’s a 40:

• Named director after serving as interim director for five months.

• Oversees the city’s 76 parks, 42 miles of trails, three public golf courses, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Principal Park, Blank Park Zoo and the Principal Riverwalk.

• Received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service to Iowa’s Children in the Area of Environmental Awareness.

• Serves as a liaison to the foundations of Blank Park Zoo, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden and Principal Park

• Member of the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau Sports Commission board of directors.

Mentor: Steve Page, his father

Fun fact: After college, Page worked as the recreational director for the maximum security inmates at Fort Dodge Correctional Facility.